North Carolina's Homelessness Challenge: Identifying the City With the Most Pressing Need

North Carolina’s Homelessness Challenge: Identifying the City With the Most Pressing Need

Homelessness poses a significant and intricate social challenge impacting millions across the United States. According to the 2023 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, there was an estimated 580,466 individuals experiencing homelessness on a single night in January 2023, reflecting a 2.2% increase from the previous year.

While homelessness is a widespread concern, certain states and cities encounter more pronounced difficulties. This article will center on North Carolina, positioned 18th among the 50 states regarding the number of homeless individuals, with a count of 9,268 in 2023.

The focus will be on identifying the city in North Carolina with the highest homeless population, exploring the reasons behind it, and delving into the initiatives underway to address this pressing issue.

The City With the Highest Rate of Homelessness in North Carolina is Asheville

Asheville, North Carolina, holds the unfortunate distinction of having the highest homelessness rate in the state, with 21 out of every 10,000 residents experiencing homelessness.

This translates to approximately 200 individuals sleeping on the streets, in shelters, or in transitional housing each night in the city.

North Carolina's Homelessness Challenge: Identifying the City With the Most Pressing Need

The homelessness situation in Asheville has seen a 12% increase since 2020, aligning with a broader national trend of a growing population of unsheltered individuals. Furthermore, Asheville leads the state in the number of homeless families with dependent children, with 161 unsheltered families reported in 2023.

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Factors That Contribute to Homelessness in Asheville

Homelessness in Asheville is influenced by various factors, including the scarcity of affordable housing, unemployment, poverty, meager wages, mental health challenges, substance abuse, and domestic violence.

According to information from the City of Asheville, the average cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment in the city stands at $1,308, surpassing the state average by 40%.

With a median household income of $50,873, Asheville lags behind both state and national averages. Furthermore, the city faces a high cost of living, exceeding the national average in categories such as food, transportation, health care, and utilities.

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Possible Solutions to Address the Homelessness

To tackle the homelessness crisis in Asheville, a collaborative effort is underway, with various entities working together to provide services and solutions.

North Carolina's Homelessness Challenge: Identifying the City With the Most Pressing Need

  • These include the City of Asheville, Buncombe County, the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative, the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Coalition, the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness, along with numerous nonprofit organizations and faith-based groups.
  • The key objectives involve improving collaboration and communication among all partners and stakeholders engaged in the homeless response system.
  • Additionally, there is a focus on advocating for increased funding and policy changes at the local, state, and federal levels to address the root causes and solutions of homelessness.

These collective efforts have yielded positive outcomes, such as a 54% reduction in the number of chronically homeless individuals since 2015, a 36% increase in permanent supportive housing units since 2018, and the prevention of 1,200 households from entering homelessness in 2020.

Despite these successes, several challenges persist, including the shortage of affordable housing units, high demand for shelter beds, limited capacity of service providers, and the enduring stigma and discrimination faced by individuals experiencing homelessness. Addressing these challenges remains a priority for ongoing initiatives.

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To Conclude

In essence, Asheville’s journey mirrors the national struggle against homelessness. It requires not only specific interventions but also a fundamental shift in societal perceptions and public policies.

By dismantling systemic barriers, prioritizing affordable housing, and fostering empathy and understanding, Asheville can move beyond temporary relief and work towards eliminating homelessness entirely.

The city’s ongoing initiatives provide a blueprint for other communities, demonstrating that with unwavering dedication and collaborative action, even the most daunting challenges can be overcome, paving the way for a future where homelessness becomes a thing of the past.

As per the City of Asheville states, “Ending homelessness is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do”.


With more than two years of expertise in news and analysis, Eileen Stewart is a seasoned reporter. Eileen is a respected voice in this field, well-known for her sharp reporting and insightful analysis. Her writing covers a wide range of subjects, from politics to culture and more.