Moving forward for the IFC

Last Monday night (March 21st, 2011) the Interfaith Council finally made it through the Special Use Permit process to present their plans for a Men’s Homestart-like Transitional Housing Facility.

The process of finding a location for a men’s facility has been going on for over two decades. In that time, many potential sites have been considered and each time discarded after vigorous complaint by potential neighbors.

This time, IFC has gone through the rigorous Special Use Permit (SUP) process with a higher level of scrutiny by town residents than most SUPs receive. The application has now been unanimously approved by all necessary advisory boards, including the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Planning Board, Community Design Commission, Transportation Board, and Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board.

Those against siting the facility at 1315 MLK reiterated the same arguments on the 21st as they have been making since the site was selected. I have listened to those arguments and I do not agree. I understand that many have fears and some fears will only be allayed once the facility has gone up and neighbors see that the facility is a good neighbor.

Is the 1315 site perfect? NO, but is it OK? YES. We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Our neighbors in need of these services deserve more.


I agree with the first sentence of your last paragraph: The bottom line is that we shouldn't care or speculate why they didn't
publish their results. I will also agree with the last sentence: Residents near the proposed site are very concerned;
their concerns can be partially addressed by steps that the IFC/town
could take.Hopefully, everyone can put aside the bad feelings on both sides of this issue and start working on a neighborhood contract that is fair but with teeth for violations to help neighbors begin to feel more comfortable. Even if the town council denies the IFC SUP, we should have the contract. I'm afraid hard feelings have arisen toward Freedom House and HomeStart residents. I suspect the hard feelings go both ways.

Terri leaves out an important piece of information which we shared on chapelhillwatch with regards to the theory on why the survey was not published.  One of the neighbors had coffee with the students twice to discuss their columns and the survey. During those meetings, the students made it clear that they were hoping to find that neighbors were not as strongly opposed to the siting. Thus, the theory that I shared was consistent with these conversations with the students who performed the survey. This is relevant information that Terri should have shared.

I don't remember reading this information, but even if I had, I'm not in the habit of reporting on what someone said someone else told them. That's where so many of the communication problems associated with this process.

I'm one of those residents that believes this is a good site for a transitional facility and the plans that the IFC has for these individuals are quite well laid, but I adamantly oppose the emergency beds.  You mention that the survey indicates safety restrictions, increased police patrols, increased lighting in the park, emergency phones, and a (presumably enforceable) good neighbor contract would turn opinion for many in the neighborhood.  I agree with those findings.   (I would add an anti-loitering ordinance for the park and an anti-panhandling restriction within a certain radius from the site as well-especially in light of the "urbanization" this area of town is likely to experience over the next 10 years and beyond.)

But none of these provisions or plans are part of the current SUP in regard to IFC and town responsibilities.

Also, I find it incredibly amusing that they mayor of Carrboro is throwing stones when his town is completely AWOL on the issue.....seriously, Carborro is supposed to be so special and it sits on the sidelines.  Everyone knows the shelter is best put next to the kitchen. 

BTW, I earned a PhD that required a good level of understanding of survey design and statistics and Terri is correct, one would want to view those results with caution.  But, also there would be a Type II error of sorts by completely dismissing them as well. 

It is certainly plausible that 80% may be a valid number within a plus or minus 10% range for residents that oppose a shelter.  And in the absence of other evidence to the contrary, it may motivate the truly interested to do follow-up surveys to reach the appropriate thresholds. 

And a shelter is exactly what it is in its current form.  Any other view of the current SUP application would be intellectually dishonest.

I also believe the low survey response may due to some of the demographic charactaristics of the neighborhood, not for lack of desire to respond.

If you come to the neighborhood and walk it and understand the layout and the natural (or un-natural in the case of MLK and Homestead pavement) barriers, you'll realize very quickly that the park is very susceptible to being ground zero for loitering and flopping, especially as this part of town grows out with retail and restaurants.

I'm hoping (like many) that the IFC will be able to start the transitional program at the current proposed site and some entity out there will step up and do the right thing with these emergency may very well be the tipping point for these neighborhoods.  All of the "at-risk" facilities in this area are predicated on the notion of changing behavior for the better-----those 17 cots completely fly in the face of that notion.

Whatever value you place on it, I believe that the above expressed opinion has been drowned out by the politics that drove this thing from the beginning.

And it's quite sad to me.  Sure, there are the offended that say the discussion has further re-enforced stigma....and I agree that has happened.

But I don't believe that is Mark's fault or the fault of anyone in opposition to the current manifestation of the SUP.

It was completely unavoidable because of the order in which the preceedings occured.  The decision was made to site the emergency beds over two years ago by a small group of people.  Anybody with concerns about the shelter component was forced into an "oppose it" versus "change it" mode which then required a level of "data outing" that represents these individuals in a less than flattering light.

I'm not going to whine about that process---frankly, the IFC would never have gotten a site without a backroom deal.  But this town is incredibly the point it is nauseating.  I've watched so many in this community rail against the moral fiber of my neighbors, and then drive home to gated neighborhoods like Governor's Club.  It reminds me of the Jack Johnson song Poor Taylor.."he thinks that singing on Sunday's gonna save his soul..."  Well, this neighborhood will be singing 24-7....and you know what, I look forward to this transitional facility being successful and sincerly hope it works and they will allow me to volunteer.

But to believe that the IFC's proposal would have lasted even 2 seconds if a proposed site was within 5000 ft of Meadowmont, or Southern Village or "you name it" neighborhood is naive.

No, I'm very proud of my neighbors and how they've handled the situation. Mark et al. have worked incrediblity hard to bring real issues to light that may, in the end, result in changes to the SUP and require the support of the town in making it work well.  I believe that all of this may actually serve the IFC and the future facility well to avoid what occured in the last 25 year go round.  One that resulted in the forced explusion and repulsion of the Community House's current neighbors (but nobody is looking down at them).  And by the way, the current "failure" or "explusion" or whatever you want to call it is not likely due to the IFC's program itself, but for lack of real support for an emergency shelter set aside from a transitional facility)

What leaves a bad taste in my mouth more than anything else are those who cry out for understanding and to be non-judgemental, when they are the very one's being most judgemental.

If you don't believe me, watch the video and response by a group dominated by clergy on the town's web-stream of the first council meeting in which the new site was brought up.

Ruby, if you'll please post.  I didn't register before writing and I am happy to identify myself.

 And I enjoy your site...though I don't always agree:)

 Troy Trygstad

Parkside Resident

Best thing I've read on OP.  Nicely written Troy.  I now expect an avalanche of silence from the peanut gallery.

Wow Troy, there's so much you have said and I'm so tired of Parkside angst that I can't do your thoughtful essay justice. I'm going to leave your pride in your neighbors and Mark alone as that subjects me to nausea.I'm also going to leave the student research project alone because I only know enough about validity and reliability to be dangerous. I think we all can see that opposition is mediated by assurances."I'm not going to whine about that process---frankly, the IFC would never have gotten a site without a backroom deal.  But this town is incredibly the point it is nauseating.  I've watched so many in this community rail against the moral fiber of my neighbors, and then drive home to gated neighborhoods like Governor's Club."I can truly say, Troy, that I have never seen a Governor's Club person involved in this drama.....but if so, they really are not living in Chapel Hill anyways; there are people living near Alamance that have Chapel Hill addresses.The IFC has spent over 25 years looking for a site, mainly because of affordability and the need to be near transit. If you opponents know of any land near Meadowmont or Southern Village that is affordable, you let us in on it. Yes, indeed, it was a backroom deal, a political deal. Duh. But you and your neighbors are not screwed, you're going to get major consessions on how Community House provides services and  protects neighbors.By the way, why didn't y'all list the senior center as an at risk program? Why one of us geezers might slip out of that building and walk right over to the park and sit down. Hopefully you'll be able to spot us and call the cops. There's children playing there and you know about those dirty old men.Obviously I am not proud of how opponents have framed issues or charaterized the homeless. But, let's keep talking.

Roscoe, It's not about you...or the IFC.  You and the project itself are not the source of the angst. The reason that nobody from those neighborhoods is at your meetings is because none of the people in your meetings make decisions in this town. That's the point. If they did, you'd have had a site long ago. The neighborhoods are not mad the IFC, and they are certainly not mad at homeless. They are mad because there are simple solutions available that would have avoided all of this fighting that are not acceptable to the people that DO live in those neighborhoods and have businesses downtown and have responsibilities to alumni. There are two glaring solutions available here and now that allow a transitional facility at the proposed site.  1)Keep the emergency site where it is with a renovation (and don't tell me the money doesn't exist-please) or 2)The emergency site is sited with the kitchen (which I am sure Mark C. will be glad to take up at the next Aldermen meeting). Niether of those seem to be too popular.  Don't blame the neighbors for that. (as a note, my apologies for not being clear with my statement you referenced.  As I read my own writing back, I believe you read it fairly, though if you review the context of my thoughts carefully, you'll believe me when I say that I was pointing out that the backroom deal was quite necessary, as I believe a site would not have have been otherwise identified or proposed--exhibit A is the 25 year timeframe without one.  So what I was trying to express was that a backroom deal was the only method of attaining a site that was available to the IFC.  So again, I don't blame the IFC for going along with that approach nor do I think they are being obtuse) Also, one of the themes that I was trying to point out (that seemed to get lost) was highlighted by your response. The way this has been framed, and charged, and transpired (through no fault of the parties actaully involved in the argument), leads to these visceral responses.   There are no enemies here. If we met each other on the street and had a conversation about life and politics not knowing anything about the other's opinion on the shelter, we'd probably have quite an aimiable conversation. I suspect that would be the case for Mark and Tina and most of the residents in these neighborhoods. They are good people.  Seriously. Troy Trygstad



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