Homeless Resources

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JoCo Cares for the Homeless

Regina Rodgers, Coordinator

The Why?

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” -Mother Teresa

You may see them sleeping in a booth at McDonald’s or in a chair at the library. Maybe they are pushing a shopping cart with all their belongings down the road. Perhaps they are sitting on a bench at the park or living in a makeshift tent in the woods. These are the homeless men and women who call Johnston County home.  When we see them, we often ask ourselves, “What do they need…food, clothing, shelter, a shower?” There is something they need even more than that – RELATIONSHIP…

The homeless are just like anyone else, they want to be treated as human, with value and purpose. JoCo Cares is not here to fix or rescue the homeless. What we are here to do is to love them and give them hope in the name of Jesus.

What We Do

Weekly Resource Center

Open every Wednesday to allow the homeless to receive resources such as help with ID’s, referrals for housing and medical, shop for clothing, shoes and other needs from the donations we have received.

Severe Weather Shelter Update

We have attended Selma Town Council meetings asking for approval to open a White Flag Shelter. We were denied. The following is a letter from Regina Rodgers regarding the situation:

The very first homeless outreach was held in February 2019. In the five years since we have discovered a large gap in resources in Johnston County for the unsheltered. One of the lacking resources was a safe and warm place to find shelter overnight. Year after year we watched as many suffered the effects of the cold and damp conditions. In December 2023 the Dream Center requested to use the mobile units at Temple City Church to operate an overnight Severe Weather Shelter and Temple City graciously agreed.

Knowing that we needed approval from the Town of Selma, we began the application process for a Special Use Permit. The first step was a Planning Board hearing which was scheduled for February 26, 2024.

In early January as we waited to go through the process with the Town, temperatures were forecast to drop into the low teens with wind chills closer to the single digits. We requested permission from Temple to open the mobile units on an emergency basis and were granted permission. We opened for the first night on Saturday, January 20, 2024. Early that morning one of our friends had to be admitted to ICU for hypothermia and the effects. Mr. David was one of the people that was brought to the shelter, he was a man in his 70’s who was blind and very ill. We actually transported him to the hospital which resulted in Adult Protective Services being called and we were able to assist with him getting into an Assisted Living Facility in New Bern. We operated the shelter through the end of March based on the guidelines that had been set of a forecast of 35 degrees or below, 35 with a wind chill or 38 degrees or below with heavy or steady precipitation.

And we moved on with the Special Use Permit process with the Town of Selma. We presented before the Planning Board on February 26th and received unanimous approval, however the Town Council has to give the final approval. The first hearing before the Town Council was held on April 9, 2024. The meeting was held over to May 14, 2024 so the Town Council could have time to review the application and communicate with staff.

To our great disappointment, the Town Council voted unanimously at the May hearing to deny the application. The official ruling states the following findings: 1. Section 17-601(D)(l): The use will not materially endanger the public health of safety. Based upon the testimony presented regarding various safety concerns, it is the Town Council’s UNANIMOUS CONCLUSION that the proposed use DOES NOT satisfy this requirement. 2. Section 17-601(D)(2): The use will not substantially injure the value of adjoining or abutting property. It is the Town Council’s UNANIMOUS CONCLUSION that the proposed use DOES NOT satisfy this requirement. 3. Section 17-601(D)(3): The use will be in harmony with the area in which it is to be located. It is the Town Council’s UNANIMOUS CONCLUSION that the proposed use DOES satisfy this requirement. 4. Section 17-601 (D)( 4 ): The use will be in general conformity with the future land use plan, thoroughfare plan, or other plan specifically adopted by the Town Council. It is the Town Council’s UNANIMOUS CONCLUSION that the proposed use DOES NOT satisfy this requirement. While this was the official ruling, the overwhelming statement throughout the hearing was FEAR. Council member Susan Watson was even brave enough to say exactly that, “I really admire what you’re trying to do, but I am just a little fearful.” Another council member asked, “Aren’t you and your church members afraid your congregation will get sick?”

The only way to appeal this decision is to file an action in Johnston County Superior Court. We have 30 days from the receipt of the written denial which was received via email on June 17, 2024. I believe that DC Board would need to approve such a measure. If approved then an attorney would need to be a part of the proceedings. We would also need letters of support from the DC Board, TCC Pastors, Elders & Board, surrounding business owners, and community members.

Please continue to pray as we examine other options, including possibly finding an alternate site outside of Selma. Thank you for your support as we continue to move forward in the leading of God for the Severe Weather Shelter.

Blessings and Thanks, Regina Rodgers Director, JoCo Cares for the Homeless