Police start tracking public encounters with homeless people

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By Andrew James

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HENDERSONVILLE, NC (WLOS) – The Hendersonville Police Department is now tracking encounters with the homeless community. Police Chief Blair Myhand said he started the new practice in March, receiving more complaints and questions about the homeless community earlier this year.

“We really found that we really don’t have any data to understand what homelessness looks like in the city of Hendersonville, and I don’t mean optically, but what impacts does it have really about services here in the city,” Chief Myhand said. mentioned.

According to Myhand, since March 17, Hendersonville police have responded to 49 calls involving the homeless community. An April 9 call involved a man sleeping outside a store with a bottle of pills next to him.

“Being homeless is not a crime, but there are crimes often associated with homelessness that are our problem,” he said.

Last month, the Hendersonville Police Department identified 24 homeless camps within the city limits, Myhand said 10 were inactive. The city does not have an ordinance prohibiting camping in public places, so no action was taken by the police.

“We’re not used to knocking down tents and pushing people out,” Chief Myhand said. “We would much rather connect people to resources, give them the help they need.

“These people are so desperate, we’ve seen cases increase twice as much as last year during the same period,” said Elizabeth Moss, executive director of the Ministry of Interfaith Helping.

Moss said that was due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as higher grocery, gas pump and housing costs.

In 2021, Interfaith Assistance Ministry helped 290 people with homeless services. In 2022, the association has already helped 128 people with homeless services.

“People are in need, the services we provide are really essential because without our help they would have nothing to eat,” Moss said.

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