The Problem of Homelessness

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Our Why

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Our WHY

Solving homelessness begins with understanding it- Our Why. Here are some of the questions we often get and our answers. If we haven’t addressed your question, please contact us.

Why do people become homeless?

Many paths can lead to homelessness.

Life crises like domestic violence, medical emergencies, divorce, mental illness, and job loss—all normal issues that can happen to anyone—are ways people end up without housing.

People become homeless as a result of these life events because they don’t have a support system to turn to while in crisis—someone who can offer financial, practical, and emotional help to get through the emergency. Our Why

Who is homeless?

Veterans, single mothers, young adults who age out of the foster care system, domestic violence survivors, people who have lost their jobs, people with mental illness.

In our region, over 500 people experience homelessness on any given night, and more than 2,000 people experience it throughout the course of a year. 45% of them are veterans. 7% of them are children. Very few of them have come to Asheville homeless: 75% had housing in Buncombe County before they became homeless and many of them are from this area originally. Our Why

What’s it like to be homeless?

Being homeless is traumatic, exhausting, and dehumanizing.

People don’t look you in the eye or treat you with respect. You’re susceptible to violence, theft, and assault. Homelessness means being exhausted and undernourished, often with little rest. You don’t know where your next meal is coming from or where you will sleep at night.
Men and women can stay in shelters if there are enough beds available. Shelters in our area often don’t have enough beds in extreme weather.

Many people sleep in their cars or at campsites—some because they can’t get into the shelters and others because their mental illnesses make shelters a scary environment. During the day, many people visit the library or other public places, or they go to our AHOPE Day Center for basic services and a safe place to rest. Our Why

What is Housing First?

Housing First means that everyone has a human right to live inside.

It means we move people out of homelessness and into homes as quickly as possible. Then we wrap around the services they need to stay there. We house everyone, regardless of illness, disability, addictions, behaviors, gender, religion, or any other characteristic. Our Why

What about the people who choose to be homeless?

The notion that people choose to be homeless is false.

Homelessness isn’t a choice or a lifestyle, it’s a terrible reality. When people become and stay homeless, it can be hard to see a way out. Sometimes people who have been homeless for a long time may say they are choosing it and it can be because they no longer remember what it’s like to be in housing. Our Why

Where are people rehoused?

Most of our housing is in apartments and trailers owned by private landlords.

When we move people into housing, they either go into public housing or privately owned housing, also known as scattered-site housing. The Housing Authority of the City of Asheville provides public housing options based on income: clients pay sliding-scale rent to the Housing Authority based on what they make. Scattered-site housing is private rental property owned by landlords who charge us fair market rates or below. The client signs the lease in their own name to build credit, but rent comes from Homeward Bound, so the landlord is assured of payment. Landlords have support from our case managers if any issues come up. Most of our clients move into scattered-site housing. Landlords are key to ending homelessness. Click here to find out more about how we work with them. Our Why

Why should I care about homelessness?

  • Ethically, practically, and financially, ending it makes our community a better place.
  • When we end homelessness, we see resources freed up to meet other needs, local businesses and tourism faring better, and our neighbors restored to lives of wholeness and dignity.
  • It’s a public health problem. People who are homeless often have to relieve themselves outside. They lack access to health care and often have chronic illnesses, made worse by tough living conditions: sleeping outside in all weather, eating low-quality foods, and being in close quarters with unhealthy people.
  • Homelessness is an economic problem. People without housing consume a lot of public resources and generate expense for the community. In our tourism-driven economy, homelessness can be a deterrent to downtown visitors.
  • Homelessness is a human problem. Our own neighbors live in tents and under bridges, vulnerable to inclement weather and violence, stripped of dignity and our collective respect. At Homeward Bound, we believe a safe, decent, and affordable home is a basic human right.

Donate

A monthly gift allows you to spread the financial impact of your giving across the entire year, lessening a one-time drain on your resources. Also, recurring gifts help Homeward Bound as we can more accurately predict income in advance, which helps with longer range budgeting and decision-making.

Volunteer

Come volunteer with us! We offer service experiences for individuals, faith communities, businesses, and schools and youth groups. Volunteers help us end homelessness in our region by helping provide much-needed services to people transitioning into a home.

Give

Your clean and gently used household items can help others experience the comforts of home. Your donations go directly to women, men, and children moving in to new homes or are used at our Day Center. Donation receipts are available upon request.

The Homeward Bound community includes caring staff, volunteers, board members, and people experiencing or moving out of homelessness. We believe that housing is a human right and use the “Housing First” national best practice to end homelessness. We care about the most vulnerable among us and work every day to help them improve their lives. Join us!

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Other Resources

BUNCOMBE COUNTY HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES  (BCHHS)
Address: 40 Coxe Avenue, Asheville, North Carolina 28801
Phone:  (828) 250-5500.
Hours:  8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday.
Services:  The Buncombe County Department of Social Services (DSS) operates the Crisis Intervention program, providing utility assistance to families in heating or cooling emergencies (does not include water, rent, or mortgage assistance).  Families can apply in person at ABCCM or call for an appointment at Eblen Charities.  BCHHS also oversees the distribution of Emergency Assistance funds for families in short-term financial crisis due to unusual circumstances.  These funds can pay deposits (must be currently homeless to qualify for rental deposit;  must be currently living in the home without power in order to qualify for electric deposit), occupancy costs,  and past due bills for rent, electricity (must have final notice), gas for cooking or heating water, and water-past due balances.  Maximum payment is $300 once a year, within a 30-day time period; if two able-bodied adults live in the home one must be working.  Funds are distributed through Eblen Charitieswww.buncombecounty.org.

EBLEN CHARITIES
Address: 50 Westgate Parkway, Asheville, North Carolina 28806
Phone:  (828) 255-3066.
Hours:  Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Services:  Eblen Charities provides general family crisis assistance, as well as rent, utilities, food, prescription and other kinds of assistance.  LEIP program is offered here as well as other heating/fuel assistance. Fees:  Insurance filing is available. www.eblencharities.org.