Home for the Homeless

Looks like the IFC is going to be homeless again. All the Chapel Hill News says is that they're having trouble finding a new place. Shock. Fortunately, the Chapel Hill Herald actually bothered to tell us what's going on.

Apparently the Town (who owns the building) is "temporarily" kicking out the IFC to do some renovations on the building. Considering that the Downtown Commission et al have been moaning about those unsightly beggars scaring the shoppers for years now, it seems quite possible to me that somehow the IFC won't get to move back in.

IFC has already had to relocate some of their services since the Town denied their request a few years ago to expand the facility at the corner of Rosemary and Columbia Streets. For example, they moved their women's shelter to Homestead Road - miles away from the walkability, the jobs, and the community downtown.

I am away on business right now, so I don't have time to articulate more delicately how sick I am getting of all the happy liberal people in Chapel Hill who want to live in a sterile, mirrored bubble and not worry about how they manage to live so comfortably on the backs of others.



You are pretty smart!

Your friend,


"I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer."

-- Benjamin Franklin, 1781

I generally like Ben Franklin, but even the wisest have their bad days ;-)

Damion (ah, you thought co-opting my name would fool us?), here's a more appropriate quote from Ben for you.

"Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do."

Love and kisses from your distant poor relation,


PS. Oh, by the way, here's the correct source for your BF quote:

"…I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means.—I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer. There is no country in the world [but England] where so many provisions are established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many alms-houses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor. Under all these obligations, are our poor modest, humble, and thankful; and do they use their best endeavours to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burthen?—On the contrary, I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent. The day you passed that act, you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for support in age or sickness. In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty. Repeal that law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. St. Monday, and St. Tuesday, will cease to be holidays. SIX days shalt thou labour, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them."

[From Benjamin Franklin, "On the Price of Corn and the Management of the Poor" (1766), Writings (New York: Library of America, 1987), 587-88.]

does that mean all demlibs are fools?

Thanks for the reference. In the future, please post links to source material rather than posting/pasting it here. These pages already get long and hard to read with so many comments.

DVM: "I'm also not sure it's fair to imply that people with drug and alcohol problems have less of a claim on the IFC's services than others."

It certainly would not be fair and I did not imply that these folks were less worthy of IFC help. The reason I ask about the circumstances of these IFC clients is that the thread began with some notion of:

"happy liberal people in Chapel Hill who want to live in a sterile, mirrored bubble and not worry about how they manage to live so comfortably on the backs of others"

If this issue about the location of the IFC is going to be used by the original poster as a bludgeon on our consciences, I am curious about the nature of the victims and their victimization and my part in it. The themes of oppression and victimization seem to run through so many local issues (i.e. school merger) but with few, if any, explanations of how someone is being oppressed. If there is no actual oppression, we trivialize real oppression.

I dunno about the shelter being moved or not but, then again, I'm not one of the "political insiders" who supposedly hang out here. Again, I am just responding to the original post about a potential move of the shelter and what it (supposedly) says about the community.

As far as the scripture goes, I am a lapsed Presbyterian and you are "casting pearls before swine" to discuss it. My point was to get away from use of scripture (selective or otherwise) in this setting completely as this discussion is taking place among a diverse community. That way, we don't have to worry if Jesus was a proto-Marxist or if the Bible commands us to stone gays for eating shrimp and bacon.

Otherwise, thanks for getting the thread back to the IFC.

I will say, Savant, that it _is_ a legitimate question to ask whether the IFC is succeeding in its mission as long as it remains housed on town property. (It is a private organization, though, and not everything it does is subject to our approval.) Some of your questions would be hard to answer after a point, such as how many people are local or not. (That would be easier to answer for the families the IFC serves through its crisis intervention programs, I'd guess, and less easy to answer for people who have no fixed address.) But to give you an idea of the services the IFC provides and some of the metrics _they_ use to keep track of how well they're serving, go here: http://www.ifcweb.org/services.html . (You may have already done this, since you give them money.) I think you missed a major category of people the IFC serves -- the mentally ill -- and I'm also not sure it's fair to imply that people with drug and alcohol problems have less of a claim on the IFC's services than others. Still, you're right to ask the questions. Perhaps a meeting with the staff would address some of your concerns.

Finally, when it comes to the issue of whether the shelter must remain in the same location or not, you're arguing against a straw man. That question has not been raised by the IFC, nor has it been raised by the Town. You should read between the lines of what is going on with the shelter at the moment, and what officials of the IFC and the town have said publicly. I have no special knowledge about any of that, but I can draw my own conclusions from what's been said.

I've never had a Buddhist socialist who wanted to be my friend!

I feel your pain, Damion. I've only had one Buddhist socialist who wanted to be my friend, but maybe that's because I'm a Baptist.

Duncan, my new friend. I'm not educated enough to come up with much on my own. I just know right from wrong.

Black & white. Good & evil.

Also, since i only have one finger, I can't key very effectively. But I can copy & paste with the best of 'em!

I bet I know which finger that is.

You got me, Damion! I'm educated enough to be familiar with what Buddhism is, and I'm familiar with the history of the early Church, commerce in Judea at the time of Christ, and how the New Testament was codified. Are you?

I'm choking, I'm choking!

Nice to see some scripture quoted in hypersecular Chapel Hill-Carrboro.

The abovementioned verses are favorites of Christian Socialists and others who like to think of JC as the Fidel Castro of his time. He was indeed a radical and revolutionary, but not of the temporal sort. To selectively quote Jesus in this way is to use him for petty political purposes while completely ignoring the central message of his ministry.

Back to the topic at hand . . .

I am still interested in learning how the IFC shelter helps its clients. Is this a revolving door or are the clients' lives changed so that they do not have to come back? Does it serve primarily local people who have fallen on hard times or transients who come to CH because it provides a permissive environment for "non-traditional" lifestyles and "careers"? How much chronic substance abuse is involved versus economic difficulties? Why must the shelter be downtown when there are free buses? Why does the need for a downtown location supercede the concerns of downtown business owners who are themselves struggling?

The original post suggested that it was self-evident that the IFC shelter must be downtown and that any consideration of moving it reflects poorly on the values of Chapel Hillians. No sale . . . yet.

DaMion, sometimes you Sound Like you could use a Dunking. More Real?

Just fed you back your own words Duncan.

Don't choke on them. Praise the Buddha!


I'd appreciate it -- and I'm sure the other writers you rip off would agree with this -- if you credited my writing when you lift it from my web site and post it. Otherwise you might get yourself in trouble. Friendly advice.


Who's picking and choosing, when you dismiss certain parts of the Word as "favorites of Christian Socialists"? Aren't we called to both embrace the central message of His ministry and to consider all of his teaching? Or just the teaching that suits you?

Two of the verses are versions of the story someone else related in their quotation from John, which, if they are favorites of Christian Socialists, must make "Seeking Justice" (what's wrong with your given names, by the way?) a Christian Socialist. Anyway, the quotation from John on The Anointment at Bethany has two other versions (three if you count the story in Luke of Jesus's dinner with Simon the Pharisee and his anointing by the sinful woman). The version in Mark closely tracks John's version, but adds a clause: "For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me." The un-annotated quotation of "Seeking Justice" would seem to mean that Jesus wanted the disciples to concern themselves with him before the poor, and that is true but only half the story. As you probably know, He was saying this to his disciples after having predicted his own death twice, and at a point when He was only days away from dying. Therefore you have to also acknowledge the literal interpretation of the verses, that he was talking in the moment: You will not always have me, disciples, because I'm about to die, so why don't you concern yourself with _that_, as this woman has done by anointing me in preparation for burial? It's not always just a metaphor, right? Or is it? Or is it a metaphor just when it suits someone's political purpose?

Anyway, Mark clearly indicates that He did not mean "to the exclusion of the poor," nor does he suggest any conditions on those kindnesses, as you do Savant. (That's what the other verses concern themselves with -- the fact that Jesus never put conditions on alms.) Elsewhere in the Gospels, clarifying this passage in Mark, He makes it clear that alms aren't optional.

Finally, Jesus's assertion that "you always have the poor with you" would seem to undermine your belief in a possible world on Earth in which there would be no more poor to administer alms to, thus putting the IFC and places like it "out of business."

Jesus Was a Buddhist. Or Not. He Was Something.

Pankaj Mishra has written an absorbing article on the "discovery" of early Buddhist practices and texts by 19th century western adventurers, amateur scholars, and imperialists with too much time on their hands. The particularities of religious transmission and cross-cultural migration always seem a little too accidental and clumsy, not to mention amusing, when considered alongside the calm assuredness and metaphysical ambition of religion itself. We may all be Buddha, as Gotama Buddha said; but we might also be a bunch of fumbling boobs, as Mencken Buddha said. Nowhere is this dynamic better illustrated than in the history of The Gnostic Gospels, and especially in Elaine Pagels's latest book, Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas. The book raises an unsettling question: How much would Christianity have been changed had the Gospel of Thomas been adopted instead of the Gospel of John, which Pagels believes was written to refute Thomas (thus, "Doubting Thomas"), and which was officially inserted by fiat into the New Testament hundreds of years after its appearance. As you read the book and ponder that question, note the interesting concordance between Thomas's Jesus -- who preaches that he was born from the "light," and that so was everyone else -- and the traditional Buddhist teaching that we are all in Buddha, that our Buddha nature is always present (but, perhaps, unacknowledged), and that the big difference between Gotama (the historical Buddha) and the rest of us is, well, not much. (See the Heart Sutra, the Diamond Sutra, and the writings of Dogen.) Considering that India and China had some commerce with the Hellenic world, is it possible that it might have been Thomas -- or even, Jesus himself -- who first interpreted and translated Buddhism for the West, and not the young avatars of the British Empire?

Luke 7:36-50, Mark 14:3-9 (Alternate versions of the Anointing at Bethany)

Matthew 6:1-18

Matthew 19:16-30, Mark 10:17-31

Luke 12:32-34

Matthew 7:1-5

"the IFC will go out of business as soon as UNC starts paying a living wage"

I did not realize that the IFC clients are all underpaid or former UNC workers.

Perhaps the problem could be solved by shifting some salary from overpaid Marxist Political Science, Sociology, and Humanities profs to the UNC employees with low wage jobs who actually do something of value.

Here is a model for a shelter that actually works!

Damion has a point...why continually feed folks who won't help themselves and use the shelter as a drug and dryout tank?

The mission in Durham asks for change. The participants have to listen to a sermon before eating.

Is this too much to ask?

As for words in red, try these:

1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.

2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.

3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.

4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him,

5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?

6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

7 Then said Jesus, "Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this."

8 "For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. "


"those who will not work shall not eat"



Well Damion, it's nice to see you participating in relevant debate at least. I still disagree with everything you've said, but perhaps we can all concentrate on arguing reasonably...

I am concerned that your preference for the Salvation Army over the IFC is based on two assumptions: first, that the IFC must be bad because they are respected by leftists in Chapel Hill; and second, that the Salvation Army must be better because proselytizing is central to their method.

Your claim that the IFC "accomplishes very little" is utterly without foundation as far as I know. While the Salvation Army may indeed perform excellent service to the community, it doesn't follow that nobody else can. As a reasonably well-informed citizen, I have never heard any argument that the IFC fails to serve as a vital local resource. If you have evidence that they are failing in their mission, you should either include such evidence in your argument or join the many volunteers who participate in the work, and help improve it.

Your subsequent post advising underpaid UNC workers to "join the private sector" is tantamount to "let them eat cake". If you think there are lots of better-paying jobs available in this company town, you should spend an hour with the classifieds.

And, hoping this won't seem too personal: is this open hostility to the needs of others really an apprpriate sentiment for Thanksgiving? Presumably you identify yourself as a Christian -- if so, I recommend you do a bit of Scripture-reading. Pay particular attention to the words printed in red; some of them may be important.

Savant, the IFC will go out of business as soon as UNC starts paying a living wage, i.e. never.

Living wage? Sounds like socialism/humanism.

If the pay is not adequate---JOIN THE PRIVATE SECTOR!

AMEN, Savant! Notice how DVM trys to paint my post as "heartless" when all I suggested was the Salvation Army?

The Salvation Army has a great track record while the IFC is mostly a political statement for liberals with a need to show their "compassion" & "caring".

The IFC is corrupt because it is humanism/socialism at it's very worst. The IFC is a "feel good" center for ultra-liberals which actually accomplishs very little long term results.

The shelter in Durham is evangelical & actually makes a difference in peoples lives. The IFC should turn over their

humanistic efforts to the Salvation Army & let the good Lord change lives & unshackle sinners

Yikes! Someone should tell George H.W. Bush about the IFC's ultra-liberal conspiracy to shackle sinners, so that he can withdraw its designation as one of his Thousand Points of Light.

And someone should _definitely_ go tell all the ministers and preachers and priests and rabbis who founded and still guide the Inter-Faith Council, whose congregations do the bulk of the volunteering at the shelter and the kitchen, that they're all actually shackling sinners and getting in the way of the good Lord!

And, as we know, Jesus our Lord said that we should ALWAYS ask the poor what they've done for us lately before we give alms. And when he told the young man that he must throw off his riches if he hoped to follow in His path, he was just kidding around! Christ our Lord was a big jokester. That bit about that which we do unto the least, we do unto Him, and blah blah blah -- that was a real gutbuster among the apostles! Good times.

I'll only feed the troll once, I swear.

The Redman post seems (to me at least) to suggest that there is some inherent virtue in poverty. The poor don't have any special virtue just because of their situation and don't "sustain whatever soul we have left." They are just unfortunate individuals with less money than the rest of us.

Many liberals apparently have an ideological need for poverty, perhaps to use it as an "in our face" indictment of American society. One wonders if our well-meaning and idealistic friends actually fear a serious reduction in (or even the end of) poverty.

I send a good chunk of change to the IFC every year and I think Damion brings up a reasonable point. What is being done over there? Are these IFC clients getting back on their feet or is there a lot of recidivism? Are we teaching people to fish? None of us deserves the right to feel good about our contributions to the IFC, regardless of the dollar figure or number of hours, if we are not freeing these people from the slavery of dependence.

The chief goal of the IFC should be to put itself out of business rather than serve as some sort of politcal symbol.

"paid taxes in this community for years"

This is true. The taxes on malt liquor "40s" and smokes are obscene. Those "sin taxes" are extremely regressive and hurt the most vulnerable members of society.

What have the people who use the IFC facility given back to the community? asks Thinker.

I'm glad Thinker asked that question. I think the people who visit and use the IFC shelter sustain a good portion of whatever soul Chapel Hill has left. I see so little left of why I originally loved Chapel Hill, the IFC and its wonderful staff and volunteers is one of the few glimmers of hope for our community.

The shelter needs to stay where it is and we need to see those who need its services every day...in our face! I assume that the Town is not kicking the IFC out and that they will make it safe and better for the IFC programs that are offered there. I volunteer at the IFC shelter every month and it is great to meet and greet the visitors, I rarely feel better about anything else I do for this community.

What have the people who use the IFC facility given back to the community?

What have you "given back" to the community, Thinker? Many of the people who eat or sleep or get counseling at the IFC have lived and worked and paid taxes in this community for years. Some of them work at the University so our kids can get learnin'. Some of them do day labor building homes so Chapel Hillians have places to sleep. Some of them have worked on farms to make sure you and yours have something to eat.

All of them have had bad luck, or they wouldn't be at the shelter. I think they deserve the basic neccesities (eg: food, shelter, a helping hand) without which none of us would be "productive" members of society.

A couple things:

I think that the decision to move out of the shelter temporarily was mutually agreed upon by the IFC and the town after some back and forth. I think safety was the issue. An IFC board member or staffer would be better able to comment on that.

It's probably true that if the IFC had been able to expand the Rosemary Street facility, the renovation might have been less burdensome. But I think that the immediate reason the women's shelter was moved out to the Homestead facility was that Project Homestart was mortally wounded by not receiving federal money it was counting on, due to a bureaucratic miscommunication (or a misleading communication, as some have characterized it). That facility was therefore available, and because I think there had previously been some interest in using separate shelters, they made the move. (The women and children used to be sheltered separately years ago when the shelters were housed in various church basements around town; not the optimum situation for the delivery of social services, but in one way preferable to crowding men, women and children together.)

(Again, an IFC Board member or staffer would be better able to explain all that, and to correct me if I'm wrong.)

Of course, separate shelters may very well have been part of the plan to expand the facility at Rosemary Street, so perhaps we're back to your original point again.

I think Chris Moran should be congratulated on beginning this process diplomatically and realistically, knowing that the issue could get a lot of people worked up during the next year if not handled properly. I would guess that the IFC knows they've got to be proactive and creative in order to continue to serve our homeless and otherwise impoverished, and Moran has set the right tone going into it -- he's said that the IFC is willing to do its part to reevaluate itself and its programs, and that should be a signal to the rest of us (especially those of us who would rather the shelter stay where it is) to check ourselves and follow his lead. It will do no one any good if this transition -- if that's what it is, ultimately -- takes place in a climate of conflict.

By the way, the Mayor gave what amounted to a "State of the Town" address last night at the beginning of the Council's business meeting, and he made a point to mention -- "because I don't think a lot of people know this" -- that the town contributes to the shelter hundreds of thousands of dollars in maintenance and other money each year, in addition to the building itself. I took this to be, likely, a direct response to the stories about the shelter of the last two days.

(I was fairly impressed by his presentation, the most important part of which -- to me -- was the justifiably impressive accomplishment of passing the Land Use Management Ordinance.)


Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.