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WPCOG Homelessness Response Team Champions Collaborative Approach to Tackle Challenge

A united front addressing homelessness has emerged as the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG) launches its newly formed Homelessness Response Team. Comprised of a team of five specialists in mental health, substance use disorder, domestic violence, workforce development, public health, and housing -- this collaborative effort is teaming with partners across the region in an effort to alleviate the challenges homelessness presents.


The Homelessness Response Team is progressing in its mission to address homelessness in the region. The team meets directly with homeless individuals and guides them to appropriate resources. The team also conducts outreach with communities and 28 local governments in Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba counties.


The planning stages for the Homelessness Response Team began with the WPCOG reaching out to many regional stakeholders -- including non-profit groups, law enforcement, elected officials, and other entities. The effort is being funded by a seven-year, $4.2-million federal grant serving the entire region.


“Through our planning and outreach, our region’s two most significant needs included street outreach for persons experiencing homelessness to connect them to our resources and providing regional coordination of the various organizations serving our homeless population. We need all our resources and community partners pulling in the same direction to address this need,” said Mayor Joe Gibbons who serves as the WPCOG Board Chair.


“The homeless situation is a regional issue because it doesn’t end or begin with the boundaries of towns or counties,” WPCOG Executive Director Anthony Starr said. “Our aim with this program is to work closely with our community partners in formulating solutions to the unique challenges each area is experiencing. We have already learned through this process that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this issue.”


In addition to regional collaboration, the WPCOG is working within its organization to support the program. The Workforce Development Board, Community and Regional Planning, Area Agency on Aging, Community and Economic Development, and Regional Housing Authority operate within the WPCOG. Each department is contributing resources to help mitigate the challenge.


“Since last year, the WPCOG Regional Housing Authority provided 76 people with emergency housing vouchers to prevent individuals and families from experiencing homelessness,” WPCOG Regional Housing Authority Director Stephanie Hanvey said. A future phase of this initiative includes using a portion of the $4.2 million to provide additional housing vouchers to those who meet eligibility criteria. 


With 60 years of combined experience at the local and regional level, the Homelessness Response Team offers knowledge and a multi-faceted approach to understanding the situation and formulating potential solutions.


“This team is amazing,” WPCOG Community and Economic Development Director Ben Willis said. “Their passion for the homeless population is evident, and they genuinely aim to make a meaningful difference. In the time they've been working with the homeless, they've already had a positive impact.”


If you or someone you know needs assistance regarding homelessness, don't hesitate to contact the team. The team is also open to discussing the program with any organization interested in learning more. You can reach the Homelessness Response Team by contacting Chasity Houck at 828.485.4297 or


The WPCOG is a regional governmental agency governed by and serving the 28 local governments in Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba Counties with 75 professionals. The WPCOG provides a range of services to local governments and residents throughout the region. Those services, departments, and programs include administrative and human resources services to local governments, Area Agency on Aging, Community & Economic Development, Community & Regional Planning, financial administration for local governments, Regional Public Housing Authority, Workforce Development Board, and many other programs.



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