Funny Math

An effort to tally the number of homeless people in Orange County came up with the magic number of 236. While it's certainly a good idea to measure this, the methodology sounds pretty weak to me. Law enforcement literally went around and counted people. How can they possibly have seen and talked to every one? According to the Chapel Hill News:

The Chapel Hill police found six people without any shelter and 20 in doubled-up housing. Carrboro police found 24 with no shelter, Hillsborough police 10, and UNC police 10. The count also found one homeless person sheltered at Club Nova, a psychiatric rehabilitation center, 143 at the IFC's Community House, and 42 at the IFC's HomeStart facility.

By this math, 78% of the homeless people in the county are having their needs met by the IFC shelter, and only 0.2% of the county's population is homeless. As much as we'd like to think this was the case, I know the IFC knows better. According to IFC Director Chris Moran, "I believe there are many more individuals in that situation than we know of because of the lack of affordable housing."

The Chapel Hill Herald points a finger at our complacency about poverty in general, and at inaction by the County Commisisoners in particular. I can't argue with them on that.

Personally I'd like to see more statistics about how we compare to other counties in the state by percantage and raw count of homeless folks.


I'd like to see how many of our homeless are local, and how many come here because they hear about the "IFC Hilton Resort" in Chapel Hill from as far away as Florida or New York.

I completely agree. Homeless people LOVE to work the system. The other day I was working at a shelter, and a new guy comes in. He clearly loved his new digs, and he whipped out his cell phone.

"Yeah, honey! I just found our new home. Come down right away."

The next day his wife flew in from New Jersey on the red-eye and they have been living happily there ever since.

"IFC Hilton Resort"--THAT IS OUTRAGOUS, that's Four Seasons IFC

What happenned to the "compassionate" conservatives? (And conservative "christians?") You all sound like you've never had an unlucky moment in your lives.

If you really hate your neighbors so much may I suggest you leave our society and stop using our communal resources? Those schools, roads, water, law enforcement, etc. are shared collectively by our community. Sounds like there at three of you to start a commune off the grid where you won't have to share your precious resources with anyone who doesn't look, act, and think like yourselves.

These IFC residents you disparage are the same people whose cheap labor makes your lives in this community so comfortable. Their poverty is everyone's responsibility.


I don't know about the other guys, but my post was dripping sarcasim.

I guesse what I was trying to say was...

...homeless people are not in a position to scam. They are not consumers searching around for the best place to freeloaf.

They are homeless.

You are taking me far to serious as well. By calling the IFC a Four Seasons, not a Hilton I am in no way saying I do not like my neighbors.I just think we take real good care of them around here.

Ruby asks: "What happenned to the "compassionate" conservatives?"

Sometimes compassion includes demanding that people take some responsibility. Having taken the time to get to know some of our homeless, I have learned that many of them gravitate to this community because of its tolerance for their chosen lifestyle and limitless supply of well-meaning enablers.

What ho? Can it be? Are there truly homeless subjects among the well-meaning enablers here in Camelot?

Pass new bonds! Give them libraries and bike paths. Raise their taxes! Swap their shopping carts for state-owned estates! Elect them to our Council!

They shall rule over our well-meaning enablers one and all. It shall be so.

Is there anyone here able to speak maturely about issues of poverty and homlessness?

What makes you eagerly confront the slightest political scandal, but run and hide from the most vulnerable members of our community?

Is it just a big joke to you?

Dearest lady.

Would that we had the luxury to choose among the many scandals we lament. The profligate stream of waste that pollutes our land. Our gluttonous reliance on fossil fuels. The corruption, lies, and greed among those placed in positions of power. And yes,the great misery of those less fortunate.

Yet, by their very nature, many of these challenges are inextricably connected. We cannot wring our hands about OPs woe-du-jour without casting our eyes toward root causes. Mr. Moran, himself, asserts that one of those root causes is the lack of affordable housing. Impact fees, review processes, neighborhood resistance, and more all conspire to drive the cost of housing ever upward. As does the cost of paying for bonds related to open space, bike paths, and libraries.

So before you further impune the motives of your loyal writers, consider the possibility that it is the grain of truth that irritates you so. And please, won't you dismount? The high horse does not well suit you.

Ruby---I'm not hiding--and I'm sorry I've been off the board and haven't commented. My church is one of the churches that will be housing the homeless when the shelter is closed down--and I couldn't be prouder. I wonder if "King Arthur" or "Todd the Blog" have ever VOLUNTEERED at the shelter--and MET some of the clients? Hmmm?

Elros--Not to worry. I caught the sarcasm!

Melanie See

(and no, that's NOT a psuedonym. That is my REAL NAME.)


Todd the Blog = Todd Melet

I did research on the Four Season's IFC by reading the annual report, and talking to staff. I found that too much money goes into direct handouts, and no enough goes to programs that help these folks get a job. While I understand some folks do not have the mental capacity to get a job, others do, and the IFC does not focus enough on them in my opinion. I do however give them dozens of cans of food a year. They do spend some resources on improving peoples lives, so I give them some credit too.

I also think the IFC needs to do a better job screening those who stay there. I believe those with felany warrents, and other violent legal issues should be turned away, if not turned in. There are too many crimes committed against our citizens by those residing at Rosemary and Columbia. Check the crime blog in our print papers.

My compassion is currently directed towards the 1.4 million men and woman in uniform who put their asses on the line for all of us. I just gave thousands of frequent flier miles to to help unite military families, and I launched which has raised thousands of dollars for our troops and families at Fort Bragg.

We all have our thing...


Todd raises an important point with the crime issue. That is one of my key gripes and why my family stopped contributing. I understand that, during the summer, one of the "clients" raped some woman or was responsible for some other mayhem. From what I read, the IFC position seemed to be that it wasn't their place to screen clients or get involved with such public safety issues.

I realize that the people served by the IFC are more likely to be crime victims than perps and that most of the entries in the newspaper describe "victimless" or petty crimes. However, that is no comfort for the victim of a serious felony.

If I got the story wrong, feel free to set me straight. I pieced it together from the yellowed copies of the CHN that I found waiting for me in my driveway after vacation. At that time, I did not have access to this groovy and informative site where I am sure I would have heard the complete story.

But see the other side of that is that a lot of people give the shelter's address upon being arrested even when they're not staying there. The police don't so anything to verify the "perp's" stated address. That means that a lot of crime gets blamed on the shelter's guests without cause.

Here's a real-life anecdote: about 4 years ago my car got broken into in the middle of the night. The investigating officer from CHPD said "it was probably someone from the shelter." But the break-in ocurred long after the IFC's curfew of 8pm. It literally could not have possibly been one of their residents. But in the police officer's mind (as in many others), he can just chalk another one up to those bad homeless people.

If the IFC decided to start checking individual criminal records, how many of those individuals would simply avoid IFC? And if they don't go to IFC, where else would they spend the night or get a decent meal? Personally, I think the IFC offers a great community service and should be commended for accepting people who need help without any caveats--seems like they put their volunteers at greater risk than they do the general community.

Is there anything else you'd like the IFC to do, Todd, while bemoaning the things they don't do with your generous donation of a few dozen cans of food? Job training, law about fire protection, and garbage removal, and animal control while they're at it? Maybe they could take over OWASA, too!

Conservatives. First they're crying about government doing too much of one thing, and then they're crying about a private charity doing too little of the same thing, all the while only willing to pony up some old cans of corn niblets. Worse than useless input from the right, as usual.

It's true that people claim the shelter as their residence even if they aren't staying there. I believe the Herald (and perhaps the News?) are NOW using the phrase "claimed to be a resident at the IFC shelter." I do know that people who are legally intoxicated are NOT allowed to stay at the shelter.

Todd--bravo to you for donating those miles. You are correct---we all have our thing.

As to the "handouts"--a goodly number of those are in the form of food/clothing/money for heat--and they often go to families who are "working poor." I suppose we COULD just let people go hungry, or cold...


"Conservatives. First they're crying about government doing too much of one thing, and then they're crying about a private charity doing too little of the same thing, all the while only willing to pony up some old cans of corn niblets. Worse than useless input from the right, as usual." -- Duncan Murrell

Sorry, but Todd the Evil Conservative gets the "Substance over Style" Award for doing something tangible to address citizens' problems. That takes much more time and energy than emoting or feeling smug about being a Special Wonderful Human Being. I would also bet that his dozens of cans of food are more than the majority of SWHB's in our "progressive" community give the IFC.

As a guy who runs a business that employs people (think of this as the ultimate solution to poverty) and applies his entrepreneurial skills to assisting some very deserving "working poor" (people who risk their lives to defend us), Todd gets to critique the IFC.

Most of the people that I know who support the IFC SUPPORT THE IFC. Food, cash donations, donations of time and effort--all of these things have happened in my house and the houses of most ofthe people I know. We donate food (almost) monthly. We donate cash annually. My kids have volunteered at the food kitchen. We are not "Special Wonderful Human Being(s)" we are doing what we can. I don't know anyone who feels smug about what they are doing.

Melanie See

(posting under my own name for months now...and I will admit to feeling a bit smug about THAT.)

I just get all choked up whenever I hear a conservative calling for more job training. Sorry.

Todd wouldn't have to step in to help N.C. military families if our dear president hadn't cut combat pay in half, cut $1.5 billion out of the budget for military family housing, and cut $20 billion from the armed services healthcare program (including no healthcare for reservists, a new policy), all the while increasing the pace of deployment and rotation.

As a veteran (USMC, 1990-1994), I appreciate Todd's contribution and his efforts to help. I just think it's obscene that there are any "working poor" in the armed services, and I don't accept that state of affairs as blithely as some would. I had Marines under my command who needed my help to apply for food stamps, including one gun crew chief who won the Bronze Star during Desert Storm for putting his howitzer into direct-fire mode and defending the battery from attack. I had another guy who worked for me, a Navy corpsman, who received an other-than-honorable discharge for drug use; he had begun to use amphetamines so that he could get by on an hour or two of sleep a night while he pulled down a second job at a civilian hospital, all to pay for medical care for a child born sick whose needs weren't met by the military medical system. The colonel who tried the case told our CO that it was a tragedy.

John McCain tried to raise this problem in the last election, and our dear president dismissed his concerns, and later questioned his patriotism and his war record. So forgive me for being cynical about so-called "conservatives."

I shouldn't have tarred Todd with that brush, though. However, I think he's out of line for continually implying that the shelter has anything in common with a luxury hotel.

I know most of our homeless population, and I don't have anything against those people. I want to help them out as much as I can, but I think that something has to change. I'm not indicating a correlation, but it seems the more we try, the worse this problem becomes.

I have thought about the situation of our homeless for several years now. Being a philosopher by nature, it has been the single most controversial topic to me since I got to Chapel Hill.

There are 2 ways we can look at this: as utilitarians or as deontologists. I think the pros and cons are too weighty and immeasurable for us to use utilitiarianism as an effective measurement of IFC's impact on Chapel Hill.

At the same time, I haven't found a solid deontological rule by which I fully 100% support IFC. I challenge the writers of this site to provide a "moral theory" (if you will) that offers the best argument for why or why not I should support IFC's mission.

I hope to hear from both sides!

Conservatives want to help by teaching a man to fish...

Liberals want to help by giving out fish...

Or the saying goes something like that.

I kid around and call it Four Seasons IFC because I see too much fish distribution, and not enough fishing lessons going on. It's that simple. If that sounds wrong to be it.



Thanks for the lesson on how to give to IFC. I love being told right from wrong.: "Most of the people that I know who support the IFC SUPPORT THE IFC. Food, cash donations, donations of time and effort--all of these things have happened in my house and the houses of most ofthe people I know. .... "

Melanie, if you worked at IFC and belittled my annual donation of a couple dozen cans of food, I would not come back next year. We all know that if everyone gave even that much, they would need to open a store at the IFC to unload it all.

Duncan--try to stick to issues, and not personal attacks. A debate is not a debate when you simply "tar" the opponent. It simply makes me feel like I am winning;>

Actually a modern conservative would defund public fishing lessons until they failed and then award a contract using public money to Learn Fishing, Inc, a for-profit educational corporation.


Todd Melet, I wasn't belittling your contribution--I was responding to Savant's complaint about SWHB's. His implication was that liberals "talk a good game..." I just wanted people to know that there are Communities out there that DO contribute. I would NEVER belittle ANYONE'S contribution--we all do what we can. The IFC, the food bank, meals on wheels--all of these are good causes.

Goodness people are prickly today. Must be the wind.


Learn Fishing, Inc, would, of course, only teach fishing to those who already know how. All others would be given the helpful suggestion "learn to fish."

"I know most of our homeless population"

Mike, you must get out a lot. What is your take on the "magic number" of 236 homeless? High? Low? If you see Barry from Virginia, please say "hello" as I have not seen him in some time.

I don't know if I agree that, in this case, dealing with the homeless is a choice between utilitarianism and deontology. On some level, I think both can be satisfied. But then, I am not smart enough to be a philosopher so I will not debate here.

I also don't think the question is whether or not to support the overall goals of the IFC. I think most here support these goals for both practical and moral reasons. (Don't expect an apology if you are an Ayn Rand fan.) The issue, as succinctly posed by Todd, is do we teach fishing or provide free fish (again and again).

Handing out fish makes one feel great but, when the recipient is soon hungry and comes back again, have we really done anything? Is handing out the fish really about improving someone's circumstances or is it more about us and that SWHB "buzz" that we get from doing (very temporary) good?

I'm baffled how this thread became a general discussion on the efficacy of the IFC, when it started as a discussion of whether the state had properly counted the number of homeless. What the IFC has to do with that (other than providing a quote for the newspaper reporters, and a portion of the raw data), I can't see. The question here was what _elected government_ was doing about poverty, not what the IFC was doing.

The IFC does much more than hand out fish, and if you don't believe that, go to their website: But even if that doesn't satisfy you, who cares? The IFC is what it is and it does what it does. It's a private organization; even better, it's a faith-based social service agency! If you don't support what they do, you can go start your own social service nonprofit but you can't vote them out. You can take your money elsewhere, but you can't tell them what to do unless you join their board. They're going to keep handing out fish, whatever you say.

Some in this town act as if they've never heard of a soup kitchen or a shelter, for all the puzzlement the concept inspires year after year.That can't be it, though, since soup kitchens and shelters are pervasive throughout the United States, and of longstanding; it's more likely people haven't heard of a soup kitchen or a shelter in a prime piece of downtown, town-owned urban real estate, and that's the thing that's galling. It's true -- in most places homeless shelters are located in areas far from the places middle and upper class people frequent, unlike the corner of Rosemary and Columbia. Around here we have a debate about that fairly frequently, and it's a legitimate subject for public debate.

But the IFC's policies and programs are not up for debate. You can join a congregation that contributes to the IFC or volunteer with the organization, and by those means you may be able to initiate a re-examination of those policies and programs. But otherwise this debate is not only off-topic, it's moot.

The puzzling thing for me is that the things people want a private organization to do for our community are much the same sorts of things others would like to see government (local, state, or federal) do. They seem to be things that a broad spectrum of people agree are the business of the community. The difference is that the private organization isn't answerable to you, and you don't have anything to say about _what_ it does, only whether you'll support it or not; government is, by definition, answerable to you, and you have a constitutional right to say _what_ it does, and to register your opinions in a meaningful way by voting.

Being against big government and government meddling in private affairs is a principled conservative position, even if others may disagree with it. What seems less principled to me -- or, at least, what makes less sense -- is to tear down government, but then re-create it again as a web of private organizations that operate with much less transparency and without being answerable to you. It's much more principled to say, "I'm against providing free job training of any kind," than to say, "I'm against free job training paid for by my taxes, but I'm for it when I don't have to pay for it and when I don't have any control over it." Forgive me if I say that I find the second position confusing.

Todd: I already apologized for sweeping you up in my sarcastic remarks about conservatives. What do you want me to do, wail and gnash my teeth and rend my garments?

Duncan---Thanks. SOMEBODY needed to bring us back to the topic! I apologize for being "part of the problem"--I just get tired of the IFC bashing. They do good work.


Is it true about Wicca & the IFC?



Any reaction to this article:

Does this help with guessing the accuracy of the count?

Does this mean that the Wilmington shelter is more comfortable? Maybe you should spread the word and send those free-loading bumbs off!! (Ruby---that's sarcasim :)

Does anyone have any testimonials or success stories from the IFC?

The topic of this thread is: Can we expect to get an accurate count of of the homeless population by simply driving around and looking?

This thread is not about the IFC. There is ample evidence of their good works on their website ( ) as well as in the local papers.


Don't know if the issue of how to count the homeless is getting much traction. I'm not surprised given the unusual methodological challenges of counting this and other special populations.

The CHN article from 1/2/04 also touched on the putative relationship between homelessness and lack of affordable housing.

Is that fair game for this thread?

Perhaps the nature of the discussion changed to IFC because the original question, one of the methodology used to count the homeless, is so problematic. Collecting an accurate, unduplicated count of the homeless has been an ongoing challenge for the US Census bureau and for state agencies charged with planning services. See

The local effort is probably as good as any other--especially when additional funding isn't provided to design a more formal methdology. From the CH News report, the purpose of the study was to "emphasize that the attitudes and policies determined by our legislators need to change...Services have to be brought to homeless individuals wherever they might be, which in my mind means building more housing units where people can live, make a living, and receive support services for whatever their needs may be -- mental health issues, veteran services, services for battered women."

I'm not sure that just a count will convince legislators that they should shift from after-the-fact services to policies that prevent homelessness. The article also indicates the need for a longitudinal study. For that to be taken seriously, they need to define their methodology (which wasn't well described in the newspaper article), and IMHO, involve others besides just the police in data collection.

The other reason this discussion went so far off topic is that many of the posters (myself included) were drawn into the defence of the IFC by OT posters who hijacked the thread. SO---what SHOULD we do when someone posts a provocative response that is potentially OT? Leave said provacateur twisting in the wind--but with the statement unchallenged? Reply once and then ignore? Is there a "wettiquette" rule for this?


It is possible that threads go "off-topic" when the discussion leads the participants to a realted but possibly more interesting topic. It's also hard to define off-topic. One person's "off-topic" is somebody else's "important related aspect". But, whoa - here I am off-topic again!


Good point Mark M. Your discussion of compulsory education on the Merger thread was interesting and worthwhile, but technically "off topic."

By the way, wasn't your key discussion partner on that "off topic" none other than . . . who was that now . . . Melanie?

Lot's of conversations naturally stray off of the original topic (like this one) and of course that's fine. The problem is that some people intentionally try to disrupt the conversations. Sometimes it's a fine line (but often it's not).

Personally, my first reaction is to simply ignore posts if they're not on-topic or at least interesting. I encourage others to do the same. I am also developing a more strctured way to deal with trolls*. More on that later... in another thread!

(* What's a troll? )

Yup! I wasn't dissing OT conversations--just exploring the "web ettiquette" (or wettiquette) of boards. SOME of us are new to this whole thing--and don't understand the "rules." Never said all OT conversationswere useless, just pointed out HOW they veered away.

I'll own my part in OT threadjackings! and will try to behave.


Do you like chicken?


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.