RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Two new 'drop-in' shelters are opened on Wednesday in Wake County as part of an ongoing effort to meet the needs of Raleigh's unhoused population.
St. John's new men's shelter on 401 W. Cabarrus Street, also known as the Bryant Center, and the new women's shelter at 510 S. Harrington St. will be open seven days a week, going beyond just being open during "White Flag" emergencies when temperatures dip below 35 degrees.
"They're vitally important," St. John's MCC pastor Vance Haywood said.
The opening comes as shelters across Wake County are over capacity.
"They're averaging right now 151 people a night," Haywood said. "So there's a huge demand for these types of services and so we expect it's going to make a tremendous difference and impact on the livelihood of people that are waiting to get into program-based shelters or just simply need a space to be for tonight."
Wesley Walker spent Tuesday assembling beds in preparation for the opening.
"It's hard to explain to someone who's never been in the position of being homeless how important it is," Walker said. "Having a shelter, a place where you can come and finding a peaceful, safe, clean place ... it's invaluable."
Walker, who experienced homelessness, echoed how crucial it is to meet the needs of the unhoused in Wake County.
"As every high rise goes up, that used to be someplace where somebody stayed," Walker said. "People are losing their homes at an enormous rate and there's just no place for them to go."
Haywood said the shelters are expected to add roughly 200 more beds to the system. However, there's more work to be done when it comes to providing better resources that are long-term".
"The biggest thing is we simply need a place for people to be," Haywood said. "I'm hoping that we're working towards that functional zero where the shelter spaces can become day centers or community centers or whatever else they need to be."
The Bryant Center will remain open every night from Nov. 1 through the end of March, according to Wake County.