GASTONIA, N.C. — Gaston County is getting ready to do their annual homeless census called, The Point in Time Count. A group will hit the streets to see how many people don’t have a place to stay Tuesday night.
But before the count, unhoused neighbors marched to Gastonia City Hall to voice their concerns about the lack of resources. They called for a hand up, not a handout.
According to Gaston County, there are more families in need of emergency shelter than there are beds for them to sleep in. Advocates are concerned the situation will continue to get worse, as home and rental prices soar and the pandemic lingers.
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"It's kind of rough, especially when the cold hits,” said Donna Rappe, who is currently homeless. She's been without housing for a while and has faced challenges; in December, she was hit by a car.
"By the grace of God, I'm still here and he has a purpose for me," Rappe said.
She says her purpose is to make things right with her family. She's trusting in God to help make that happen.
"Trust that he's going to get me, put me somewhere that's going to be my own home, my own place because I want my own place and I've never had my own place," Rappe said. "And hopefully when I get my own place, maybe my daughter will come and see me and bring my grandkids so I can see them."
Rev. Dwayne Burks is the director at The Gateway Gaston, which helps provide resources for unhoused neighbors in need. He knows the need is great, and could potentially be greater this year.
"The last few years we've hovered between 130 and 200, we know the count is up this year," he said.
Advocates say the count results should secure more federal funding for programs to assist people like Rappe. For now, she’ll stay at Faith, Hope, and Love Ministries, where she gets a warm meal, but it won’t last forever.
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