Service members with Other-Than-Honorable discharges receive no veterans benefits and are much more likely to become homeless. But the military has no consistent standards about who gets a dreaded "OTH."

Shortly after Barack Obama became President in 2009, he announced an ambitious goal -- to end homelessness among military veterans by the end of 2015. Now, at the deadline, results are mixed.

A picture of a homeless man and a shopping cart.
Matthew Woitunski / Wikipedia

Greensboro's homeless population is now guaranteed a safe place to spend the night when the weather drops to dangerous temperatures. This "white flag" emergency system was created after the city's two shelters turned people away on such nights last winter because they reached capacity.

A picture of a homeless man and a shopping cart.
Matthew Woitunski / Wikipedia

The Inter-Faith Council for Social Service in opening a new men's homeless shelter in Chapel Hill this week.

The new SECU Community House will replace the one in the old Town Hall building, and it will offer more permanent beds. It's still the only shelter for adult single men in Orange County.

IFC Executive Director Michael Reinke says he's been working in transitional housing services for 28 years.

A picture of a homeless person sleeping on the street.
Franco Folini / Creative Commons

Dozens of people are waking up outside in Greensboro today.

A vigil was held last night to honor nine people who died in that city this year, while living in homelessness.

Michelle Kennedy is executive director at the Interactive Resource Center. She says that number might be higher.

“So it’s hard to ever really have an accurate number of how many people we've lost while experiencing homelessness in this city, or really any other city,” Kennedy says.

A picture of a hand in a fingerless glove.
ADRIGU / Flickr

Charities are urging shoppers not to forget the less fortunate during the winter holidays.

The Durham Rescue Mission and Salvation Army are collecting gifts for children.

Other shelters are asking people to drop off essentials for people who are out in the cold.

“In our winter ministry, in which we distribute clothes out in the community, we need scarves and hats and gloves and coats,” says Lynn Daniel.


A new report from the Brookings Institution ranks four North Carolina cities among the top 15 in the country where poverty is soaring fastest: Raleigh, Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Greensboro-High Point. 

In 2011, a new videogame premiered that not many expected would be a hit. The game is called Spent and it is about surviving homelessness.

Spent is a collaboration  between Urban Ministries of Durham and the interactive firm, McKinney.

A judge in Durham dropped criminal charges Wednesday against 14 people who were cited for panhandling. Charges were filed under a new ordinance that makes it illegal to beg for money in parts of the city.

Chief District Court Judge Marcia Morey dropped the charges as part of the court’s effort to keep offenders out of jail under the condition they not violate the ordinance again and seek help with health, addiction, housing or employment issues.

The city of Raleigh hosts the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival this weekend.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tsolson/ / flickr

Charities in Raleigh could soon be using a vacant warehouse across from Moore Square to distribute food on weekends. 

City staff members submitted that recommendation this week.  The city came to the agreement with local charity groups after volunteers said this summer police threatened to arrest them for handing out food. 

A city ordinance prohibits food distribution without a permit, but charities said they had been doing it for years on the weekends when soup kitchens are closed. 



Last night leaders of local charities met to discuss options for distributing food to the poor in downtown Raleigh.

The meeting is part of a continuing negotiation between the organizations and city officials after Raleigh police stopped a group from distributing food in August.  Host Frank Stasio talks with News & Observer reporter Colin Campbell about the latest developments

Raleigh NC
Dave DeWitt

Raleigh is taking more public comment about its food distribution ordinance. 

Monday night's meeting comes nearly a month after police threatened to arrest volunteer groups that were handing out food to the homeless in Moore Square.  A city ordinance prohibits food distribution in public parks without a permit, but at least one group says it had been giving out food on the weekends for six years. 

Mital Patel Triangle Business Law
Leoneda Inge

A group of community and business leaders spent the night under the stars last night, right across from the Durham Performing Arts Center.  The United Way event was designed to bring attention to homelessness and poverty in the Triangle. 

They made their beds out of cardboard refrigerator boxes – laid out or propped up on the grass between DPAC and the railroad tracks.

Kari Stoltz is Triangle Market President for Bank of America.  As she prepared for the night, Stoltz grabbed her khaki baseball cap.

In North Carolina, a fight is brewing over the homeless in the capital city of Raleigh. Elected leaders have asked charitable and religious groups to stop their long-standing tradition of feeding the homeless in a downtown park on weekends.

But advocates for the poor say the city is trying to push the homeless out of a neighborhood that business leaders want to spruce up.

'I Will Arrest You'

Almost every day, the Rev. Hugh Hollowell walks through Moore Square, a centuries-old city park in downtown Raleigh.

Dr. Leslie Smith speaks on the State of Things.

This episode was a rebroadcast.  The program originally aired on Monday, February 25, 2013.

When Leslie Smith was 24 years old, she was in a fire. After spending 3 months at the Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill, she was released. Smith told Host Frank Stasio “It took me about ten years to recover from those injuries.”

Raleigh NC
Dave DeWitt

A city council committee in Raleigh has agreed to review a ban on allowing food distribution in a downtown city park.

The council's Law and Public Safety Committee held a three-hour public hearing Wednesday to listen to residents who were angry about the ban.

It was enforced last weekend, when charitable and religious groups that normally distribute food in Moore Square were stopped by the police. They were following a 1998 ordinance preventing food distribution that officials had previously ignored.

Dr. Leslie Smith speaks on the State of Things.

When Leslie Smith was 24 years old, she was in a fire. After spending 3 months at the Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill, she was released. Smith told Host Frank Stasio “It took me about ten years to recover from those injuries.”

“I had bandages from my neck down to my thighs where my burns were, and then from my thighs down to my ankles where they had taken skin to do skin grafting operations. So I literally was covered from ankle to neck in bandages.”

More beds are available for the homeless in Durham as the need for shelters continues to rise across North Carolina.  The Durham Rescue Mission has opened a new facility with beds for 88 men as well as a large kitchen and dining area.  The Triangle is among North Carolina's metropolitan areas where more people are looking for a meal and a place to sleep.  Durham Rescue Mission COO Rob Tart says shelters are also trying to adapt to new needs for the homeless population.

"I've been doing this for 17 years and we had very few intact families that showed up 17 years ago," says Tart.

Workers across the state will try to get an accurate count this week of the homeless population. Each year the federal Housing and Urban Development agency, HUD, requires states to calculate the number of people who are homeless. This count takes place at shelters, as well as tallying the people at tent camps, under bridges and even those staying with relatives.  Darryl Kosciak is Executive Director of Partners Ending Homelessness, in Greensboro.

On Tuesday night in Greensboro the temperature is expected to drop into the teens and shelters are expecting to be at or near capacity. Four years ago there was a significant rise in the number of people seeking shelter during the winter months. Greensboro didn’t have enough beds and on many cold nights dozens of people had to sleep on floors. The city responded by opening a half dozen winter emergency shelters for frigid nights like tonight. Reverend Mike Aiken says those facilities opened December 1st and will be packed this week.

Liz Seymour was in her 50s when she found herself divorced, living in a group house with her foster son and dumpster diving for food. She had left her comfortable, middle class existence willingly in order to find what she calls her "right-sized life." She became an anarchist and activist. Today she is the executive director of the Interactive Resource Center, Greensboro's only day center for people managing homelessness. Liz Seymour joins host Frank Stasio to discuss her journey from orderliness into happy chaos.

Durham will soon be home to some of North Carolina's first housing for homeless veterans with disabilities. The 10-unit complex near Northgate Mall will have affordable rents and will connect tenants with support services.

Jess Brandes is projects coordinator for CASA, the nonprofit developing the site. She says Durham has a lot of services for veterans because of the VA medical center there.

Teams of volunteers are out on the streets and at campsites across Wake and Orange Counties this week, surveying the homeless population. It's part of a national effort to house 100-thousand people who are homeless by the middle of next year. The United Way's Chantelle Fisher-Borne is the coordinator of Triangle Registry Week.

With the winter approaching more beds are being made available to people who are homeless.

In recent weeks shelters in Greensboro have turned away a significant number of people seeking assistance. This week eight winter emergency, or 'WE' shelters are opening throughout the city. One new site is at the YWCA. It will serve up to 25 single women each night. Sharon Sumner is Director of the WE Shelters for the Greensboro Urban Ministries. She says this new shelter increases capacity where there is a growing demand.