There's an encampment of homeless individuals currently residing under the bridge on Riverside Drive in Lincolnton. There have been tent encampments near the railroad in Boger City.
While some of the homeless make their way to Hesed House, others do not. Hesed House, Lincolnton's homeless shelter, won't accept those who are on alcohol or drugs. It's a matter of safety for staff and other homeless who use that facility including children at times.
A small number of homeless individuals have become aggressive in their panhandling. They have at times caused fear for some employees of downtown businesses, especially those working in restaurants who don't leave for home after work until nighttime. A few have also trashed the restrooms at the Welcome Center and at some businesses.
Perhaps in part because Lincoln County Christian Ministry operates a soup kitchen and because Hesed House offers overnight lodging, there are cases where homeless from other counties have been brought to Lincolnton.
Gaston County created a Homelessness Task Force in March. So far, they've come up with no real solutions to the problem. In Gaston County, the Salvation Army operates a homeless shelter--but they're often full, and their policy is to allow people to stay there only 30 days, although some have stayed for as much as six months.
The problem for many is that available jobs for which they qualify don't pay enough for them to support themselves. Social Services officials say you need to make at least $16 per hour to get by. Rents are currently very high--renting a single wide mobile home can cost $700 per month.
To come up with possible remedies that may help the situation, the Lincoln County committee is conducting a survey. Hannah Houser, who works as the director of Animal Services, is heading up the committee. She told us: "The importance of addressing homelessness in our community has not gone unnoticed. Lincoln County and the City of Lincolnton alongside local Non-Profits have come together to form a new Homelessness Steering Committee. Before any action can be taken the goal is to really understand homelessness in our community, to learn the challenges and impacts, and to make sure that we know what the issues at hand truly are. Citizens can expect a lot more information on this project as we move forward, but for now we are encouraging anyone who lives, works, or spends time in Lincoln County to take our short survey:
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