Randy Brock of Goldsboro spends his day wandering the streets of Goldsboro, and at night he sleeps outside at a local church.
“I’ve probably been homeless since 2016,” Brock said Thursday as he reclined on a bench under the shade of a tree near Goldsboro City Hall.
Brock, 62, said he has health issues, including arthritis and some vision problems, and wants people not to judge him for being homeless.
He said he is not interested in working due to health issues.
Brock said he’s tried living in a shelter but that things just didn’t work out.
“I’ve stayed in the shelter awhile, but I don’t like the shelter because there is too much drama,” Brock said.
Brock said he rarely asks people for money and often blames himself for being homeless.
Before being homeless, Brock said he had money and a home.
“I don’t blame anybody for me being out here,” he said. “It’s all my fault.”
One thing he misses is hot showers and hot meals.
“People don’t think when you’re homeless, especially in the summer, where you take a bath at,” Brock said.
He sees many of Goldsboro’s homeless population walking around downtown wearing dirty and ragged clothing and said they have no way to clean themselves.
“That don’t help your outlook on stuff,” Brock said.
To bathe occasionally, he uses the restrooms at the Hub downtown to wash off and shave.
The Hub is a new outdoor entertainment venue with an amphitheater, stage, paved walkways, tables, a lawn, restrooms and other amenities. It’s located near the intersection of Center and Chestnut streets, where live bands perform under a covered stage and concert-goers can stand or sit on a grassy area in front of the stage.
To stay cool, he goes to places like the library where he reads newspapers, magazines and other periodicals.
“Killing time is hard,” Brock said. “Some people probably drink some to help them get through the day. I walk around, and it makes for long days.”
The Goldsboro Police Department has counted more than 100 different people who claim to be homeless in the city, said Maj. Dean Edwards.
He said it is the police department’s understanding that there are even more people who have been identified by local groups that officers have not identified.
Police officers are trying to address the issue, though, and reduce the number of homeless people in the city.
“The officers have been instructed to talk with people that identify as homeless to find out certain things like if they are veterans, have children or have pets,” Edwards said. “The officer can then advise the people of the different resources available to them in Goldsboro and in surrounding areas.
“Our officers have even helped get several people their official identification cards so these individuals could travel home and so that one individual could get a job. Another person that identified as homeless was provided information on how to read so he could also get a job.”
Edwards said he doesn’t think homelessness will ever be eliminated.
“I do not think you will ever eliminate homelessness because there are some people that identify as homeless and they have homes,” Edwards said. “They choose not to go to those homes due to different reasons.
“We are trying to reduce homelessness by partnering with different agencies and community groups to provide resources to get people the help they need to merge back into society. There are several community groups in this area that have a heart for helping as much as they can. However, areas like Raleigh definitely have more resources than we do.”
Why someone is homeless depends on several factors, Edwards said.
“There is no one answer for what drives homelessness,” he said. “The drive may be a volunteered choice. There may be an instance when a person has lost their home due to financial burdens. There may be a drug dependency. There may be mental issues.”
HELP FOR THE HOMELESS
Brock said some homeless people cannot work because of mental issues and others are homeless because they have no money.
Brock said he subsists on lunch meat during the week, and occasionally visits area soup kitchens.
On Friday nights, Brock said he and a friend enjoy a nice meal together.
When he sleeps outside at night, he hears noises and has to guard his possessions that he carries in his handcart.
“I hear every little thing,” Brock said. “I’ve had my stuff stolen three times.”
Despite his struggle, Brock keeps his faith in God.
“I pray to the Lord a lot, ask him for his help,” Brock said. “I thoroughly believe in God. I got now where I’m more thankful. I asked the Lord to help me have a more thankful mind right now. Like right now, I thank the Lord for this cool breeze.”
Brock said he feels that the city of Goldsboro and the community could do more to help the homeless, especially when it comes to housing.
“I see a lot of houses around town that are abandoned,” Brock said. “I know it’s going to take money. But a lot of these houses seem like they could do something. Maybe they can be used for people.”
Without access to housing, Brock said the homeless have to constantly move from place to place. Some even live in tents and other makeshift housing.
To help address the homelessness issue, the Goldsboro City Council recently approved a homelessness committee.
Future discussions are planned at the council’s Sept. 20 meeting, at City Hall, regarding how the committee will operate, who will serve and other details.
Councilman Gene Aycock said the council needs to do more to address the plight of Brock and others who are homeless.
“It’s becoming more and more of a problem right now, and we haven’t addressed it to the degree it needs to be addressed,” Aycock said. “We’ve got to find some sort of shelter or some way to shelter the homeless. But one of the problems we have seen is some people would rather live in a tent than live in a house.
“When you see a group of homeless, they basically have their own culture, I guess is what you would call it. We’ve got to get them away from that culture and that way of thinking. It’s definitely something that has to be addressed.”
Brock said that not everyone wants to live out on the street, though, and that homeless people just want to be respected.
“Everybody’s that’s homeless, they ain’t trying to harm people,” Brock said.