Officials track Mecklenburg Co homeless population

by: Paige Hansen Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Channel 9 met Lorenzo on North Tryon Street Thursday morning. 

He has been homeless for a year.  He didn't want to show his face, but said at times he has walked all night out in the cold because he was afraid to go to sleep. 

He said being homeless is dangerous, and when beds fill up in local shelters it gets desperate.

“I go to the hospital, act like I'm hurt to get out of the cold,” Lorenzo said.

This year local agencies and volunteers are trying to get a more accurate count of our homeless population instead of relying on estimates from local shelters and law enforcement.

Before sunrise, Pamela Jefsen with Supportive Housing Communities and volunteer Joey Haynes started counting how many people are sleeping in shelters, on benches or on the streets. 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development requires the count and uses it to determine how many federal dollars to give to communities.

“It really makes you think a lot about what you have and what others don't have,” Haynes said.

Jefsen said it's not just a moral imperative to end homelessness but an economic one, too.

“People who are out on the streets are vulnerable,” Jefsen said.  “They have health issues, they use county services that the taxpayers pay for.”

Last year 2,418 people were homeless in Mecklenburg County.  This year the hope is the numbers have gone down.

“If you can help somebody, help them.  Don't just look at them.  Give them a hand up, not a hand out,”  said Lorenzo.

The results of this week's count won't come in for a couple weeks.