Wake County experiencing sharp rise in homelessness among kids

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Saturday, November 16, 2019
WCPSS teen homelessness
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WCPSS teen homelessness

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month and Wake County is seeing a sharp rise in homelessness among children.

Some people say the lack of affordable housing within the region is the culprit.

The Wake County School District is tracking the number of affected kids and over the course of four years, there has been a near 60 percent rise in homelessness.

WCPSS says the total number of students identified:

  • 2018-2019 - 4,365
  • 2017-2018 - 3,989
  • 2016-2017 - 3,465
  • 2015-2016 - 2,940
  • 2014-2015 - 2,736
  • "This is a problem in our community. We have kids that have no safety net," said Haven House Services CEO Michelle Zechmann.

    Haven House Services is an organization dedicated to providing community-based services to at-risk youth and families within the county.

    The organization says it's nearly impossible for a young teen or adult to live here making minimum wage.

    "It would take them over 90 hours a week of work in order to afford a one bedroom apartment in Wake County right now," said Zechmann.

    Haven House has programs in place to help kids find some stability. One of which provides money to pay for housing up to a year.

    "In that time, we'll help them get education, employment, things that will help them sustain in the future, but we've noticed over the last couple years that has become harder and harder to do in Wake County," said Zechmann. "We always have a waiting list."

    Haven Houses won't just leave kids in the lurch and without a place to sleep.

    The organization finds children shelters, but the real problem is getting kids permanent housing.