As a Raleigh citizen for the past seven years, I have seen Raleigh grow into a welcoming, educated + prosperous city — Raleigh is consistently ranking among the best cities for economy, happiness, and safety. And while there are so many incredible aspects of our city, there are many people being left behind, forced out, and not included in the conversations surrounding growth.
One of the most vulnerable population groups that is historically outcast and excluded from conversations regarding economic development is individuals experiencing homelessness. Throughout history, people experiencing homelessness have been viewed unfairly — seen as drifters, criminals or welfare dependent. They are often misunderstood by society.
Did you know that the overall leading cause of homelessness is insufficient income and lack of affordable housing?
While the issue of homelessness is a larger, more broad conversation, the City of Raleigh is taking steps to move towards affordable housing options + creating a system of care for individuals experiencing homelessness. The City’s consolidated five year plan outlines outcomes and internal controls to continue to provide the best care for individuals experiencing homelessness. The three priorities include increasing the supply of affordable housing, enhancing the homeless to housing continuum, and increasing services to build self-sufficiency + sustainability.
There are also steps individuals and families can take to reduce the social stigma and create a more inclusive community. Having conversations regarding homelessness in your daily life — whether that is talking about the effects of homelessness with children, creating relationships with individuals experiencing homelessness or keeping a blessing bag in your car — starts to create less of a divide amongst individuals who are housed and those that are not. Moving towards one another + fostering relationships while humanizing rather than avoiding or outcasting individuals because of their housing situation is one of the first and most important steps in creating a more equitable society.
Contributing writer Bailey Ulm is a graduate student at NC State, passionate about seeking a just, kind, and inclusive society. Do you want to join the conversation? Share your thoughts by contributing to our Voices platform.