If he doesn’t get some help, Richard McFall could be spending Thanksgiving on the street.
McFall, 72, a Navy veteran, had been living with a relative until last week, when he said that relative told him he had to leave.
On the streets, he wandered into the Havelock Senior Center and ran into Robert Branscome, a janitor at the center. He tried the Religious Community Services homeless shelter in New Bern, but there was no room.
McFall spent one night at CarolinaEast Medical Center in New Bern, receiving treatment for a painful leg. A minister then paid for McFall to spend a night in the Palace Motel in New Bern.
The Disabled American Veterans chapter in Havelock then paid for a week’s stay in the Sherwood Motel in Havelock, but that week runs out on Thanksgiving.
“It’s just a desperate time. We see it every day,” said Juliet Rogers, director of shelter
services at Religious Community Services in New Bern.
RCS has a 90-day emergency shelter that has 12 beds for men and six for women, plus two to three beds for families. It serves Craven, Jones, Pamlico and Carteret counties.
“That’s a lot of counties and not a lot of bed space,” Rogers said. “We don’t have enough bed space for the need. I’m turning people away a lot. It’s just the way it is.”
McFall, receives $992 in Social Security each month, but he won’t get that payment until next week. When the money arrives, McFall hopes he can rent a small, one-bedroom apartment and get himself on his feet.
The problem for the homeless increases as the temperatures decrease, as early Monday morning low temperatures in the region were in the 20s.
“When the weather gets cold we stay full,” Rogers said. “When the weather gets hot, we stay full.”
Havelock does not have a shelter, so those who are homeless turn to New Bern or Carteret County.
Tracey L. Chiacchia, 48, of Harlowe, sought help from Family Promise of Carteret County. Chiacchia said she had spent nights in her car after leaving her home in what she said was a domestic situation with her estranged husband.
“I was at church one day and that’s when I found out about Family Promise,” Chiacchia said. “They help people get on their feet. They help people to find somewhere to live. They were a very big help for me at first, but by me living in Craven County, I was denied their services after that.”
Family Promise is a nonprofit organization that provides temporary lodging and meals to help people who are homeless because of eviction or foreclosure and helps guide them to a new home. However, it is designed to serve only Carteret County residents.
Joan Cantor, executive director of the group, said she is seeing more requests for help from Craven County residents.
“We’re getting a lot of calls from people in Craven County, either from the North Harlowe community, James City community or New Bern proper, looking for a place to go because there’s not enough sheltering, evidently, up here in Craven County, so we would like to challenge Craven County to start a Family Promise,” Cantor said. “We’re handling Carteret County fine, but I’m getting at least four to five calls a week from Craven County, and our organization chose to serve specifically our county.”
For victims of sexual assault or rape, Promise Place in New Bern may be an option.
“We have a different focus but we have crossover clients,” said Jan Hood, executive director. “We work with RCS when we do have someone who is homeless. We would second the vote that there should be a place for people to go. I would love to see a Family Promise in that area of Craven County or anywhere in Craven County.”
“I would love for another organization to come forward to help out,” Rogers said.
For Chiacchia, a place to turn in Craven County may be the Coastal Women’s Shelter in New Bern, which helps victims of domestic violence.
“All the services that we provide, which is shelter, court advocacy, counseling, these types of services to women and to children, is available,” said Martha Hardison, executive director. “We do not shelter any men. We only work with them on court advocacy, but for all women and children, those services are available.”
Cantor said the issue of homelessness would likely get worse before it gets better.
“The world has taken a paradigm shift,” she said. “We no longer have 40 hour a week jobs. We have jobs, but they are part-time wages. If you’re getting $250 a week, that’s not enough to live on today. It’s all just ricocheting down like a domino effect, so the numbers are growing.”