RALEIGH — State Rep. Garland Pierce’s efforts to have a bill passed establishing a legislative task force to study what he says is a growing problem of homelessness across the state stalled last week.
“It just never got out of committee and to the floor for a vote before the bill crossover deadline for this session,” said Pierce, a Democrat from Wagram whose district includes part of Robeson County. “But it’s not over yet. There is always a way to make things happen.”
Pierce had been pushing to get his bill heard before the House Committee on Homelessness, Dependency and Foster Care. A hearing had been scheduled, but was postponed when other items on the committee’s agenda took more of the meeting time than had been expected.
Pierce’s bill called for the establishment of a 12-member joint legislative task force that would include House and Senate representatives as well members of the public. The task force would look at methods of addressing homelessness in general, study issues of homelessness specific to North Carolina, and recommend initiatives appropriately tailored to the homeless needs of the state.
The proposal called for the task force to submit its study and recommendations on or before May 1, 2018.
Pierce said that homelessness is a growing problem across the state and needs to be brought under control.
“We won’t be able to get rid of homelessness, but we need to look at creative ways to reduce it,” Pierce said.
Although disappointed that his bill will not be heard and acted on this legislative session, he was upbeat, saying he will not stop his efforts to address the problem of homelessness at the state and regional levels.
“I can always approach the governor and request he establish by executive order a task force to study homelessness statewide,” Pierce said. “And I can work on my own to setup a regional task force to study homelessness in the four counties I represent.”
In addition to Robeson County, Pierce represents parts of Hoke, Scotland and Richmond counties.
Pierce said that he has already been approached by community leaders in the four counties he represents who are interested in seeing that a task force to study homelessness in their counties be initiated.
“I can do that even as I continue my efforts to have a task force established at the state level,” he said.
Pierce says that it is important that people realize that homelessness is more than just not having a house in which to call their own.
“People can be considered homeless if they are staying with someone else, sleeping on the floor or a couch,” Pierce said earlier this month. “They are homeless if they are sleeping on the street or in a car.”
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.