Fri 16 Oct 2009
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There are a lot of questions (and comments) about the potential relocation of the IFC Men’s Shelter to the corner of Homestead Rd. [MAP].
At last night’s WCHL 1360 candidate forum [MP3] I talked about how, if elected to Council, I would use an approach like the one I helped develop for siting the new Orange County trash transfer station; in conjunction with the community, staff, the IFC and technical experts develop objective, measurable, community and technically based criteria to apply to site approval that complements the Town’s existing planning process.
Using a facts based approach should help the community focus on the relevant issues, create a framework for discussion of issues that by their nature are necessarily subjective and reduce some of the tension that has arisen from misinformation (some of which continues to be promulgated).
Along those lines, I have requested crime statistics for the Homestead area for the last year, as many of the emails candidates and Council are receiving refer to incidents I wasn’t aware of (not reported in the press, by staff to Council, etc.). Based on these citizen emails, it appears that this area is already having difficulties that are not being adequately addressed.
Until I get the statistics, here’s a great tool that the Daily Tar Heel’s Sara Gregory developed for visualizing incidents.
In addition to the questions and answers the IFC’s Chris Moran provided earlier, Chris has also provided the following time-line, including proposed expansion and relocation of needed services, to the community to set the context for discussion:
- The Inter-Faith Council (IFC) has enjoyed a strong partnership with the Town of Chapel Hill for 24 years through the use of the Old Municipal Building (OMB) to house current Community House operations (residential facility and the Community Kitchen);
- Project Homestart, a HUD/Orange County sponsored transitional housing program for homeless families, officially opened in April 1998 on the Southern Human Services Center campus in Chapel Hill;
- In 1999, Chapel Hill Mayor, Rosemary Waldorf organized an IFC Relocation Taskforce;
- Since 1999, the IFC, the Town of Chapel Hill and partner agencies have been searching for a permanent location for our men’s facility without success;
- In 2003, HUD funding ended for Project Homestart; a community planning group announced a reorganized HomeStart plan for homeless women and children; and single women residents moved from the OMB to HomeStart campus;
- In January 2004, the Mayor of Chapel Hill and the President of the IFC co-convened a community process to address homelessness and new facilities;
IFC/Town 2004 goals included:
- creating a comprehensive food program in the IFC’s Carrboro building to offer a wide range of support services in partnership with other agencies for hungry persons and those at risk of homelessness
- identifying a new site for Community House and moving to a more suitable facility
- Another IFC/Inter-Governmental Work Group was formed in 2006 to find new locations for IFC facilities including a request for county land at the Southern Human Services Center;
- On May 5, 2008 former Chancellor James Moeser and Mayor Kevin Foy announced a new partnership and gift of land for relocating Community House to MLK Blvd.;
- Moving forward, the partnership will be even stronger as it includes UNC participation and support;
- The land (50-year lease for Community House operations) will allow IFC to have a facility that will be better suited to meet resident needs;
- While close to the Orange County Southern Human Services Center and accessible to a major bus line, the location also provides a private setting where 50 men can enlist in a program that will restore health, well-being, learning skills, confidence and opportunities for independence;
- This new program will allow formerly homeless men to become productive members of the community;
- In the absence of finding a suitable location for the Community Kitchen, the IFC intends to consolidate its food programs (named FoodFirst) for member households at its 110 West Main Street facility in Carrboro unless a more desirable location is found;
- The IFC, local congregations and our various partners request that the Chapel Hill Town Council move forward with the Special Use Permit process and next steps to make Community House’s relocation a reality for the men that look to the IFC for support and new opportunities for regaining their independence. They’ve waited long enough!