Rockingham County one step closer to getting homeless shelter

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. -- If you're homeless in Rockingham County, there's a shelter you can go to from December to March. But now that it's April -- many people are out on the streets.

"Where they go, I'm not sure," said Ellery Blackstock, with Rockingham County's Department of Health and Human Services. "This year's count, we've got 71 homeless here in our county."

For more than a decade, Blackstock and others have been working to get a year-round shelter for Rockingham County and they have just passed a milestone.

County Commissioners have gifted a plot of land, near the animal shelter, for use by a permanent homeless shelter.

Commissioner Mark Richardson said the plan is for Home of Refuge Outreach, the nonprofit that runs the winter shelter, to run the permanent shelter.

"The fact that citizens are running it for citizens I think will keep that pertinent contact about what's needed and what's going on," he said.

Blackstock said that, now, he and colleagues are working on funding for the construction of the shelter and its maintenance. He said they have recently been awarded one grant but are hoping to raise more money in private donations before the building process will start.

"It's a county problem," he said. "Homelessness exists throughout. If there's one person homeless, that's all of our problem. We are our brother's keeper."

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