IFC, Homeless No More?

Is anyone at all surprised to see that the IFC soup kitchen/shelter will not be moving back into the space that they had to leave "temporarily" so the Town could remodel it? You shouldn't be if you read OrangePolitics. I can understand them needing more and better space for their residential programs, but I can't see the free meals they provide being nearly as helpful if they are served a mile away from the center of town. Poor people don't just hang out downtown because there are students to ask for money, it's also near where they work for poverty-level wages (ie: the University).

It also comes as no surprise that downtown merchants will be glad to have the shelter permanently out of their hair. I wonder if the move will have much impact on the panhandling that some people seem to think is the biggest problem we have downtown. (Besides maybe parking, of course!) Only time will tell.

Many criminals have fed the negative stereotypes of homeless people by hanging around the shelter and by giving its address when they're arrested. However:

an IFC volunteer looked at 704 police reports from April through July. Out of that total, there were 52 reporting that the suspects lived on the streets of Chapel Hill. There were 26 in which 100 West Rosemary was the address given for the suspects, and 626 with other residential addresses, he said.

The IFC compared the names on the 26 reports with the homeless shelter's roster, and found that only two of those men actually had stayed at the shelter at the time of the report.- Chapel Hill Herald 8/14/04

It's hard for me to talk about these issues without getting really pissed off so I'm going to stop there. I just hope this move comes with free sneakers for every homeless family in Orange County.


We know that moving the shelter won'thave any real effect on Panhandling--OR loitering--because it hasn't had any efffect this summer--and the shelter has been closed ALL SUMMER.

I was under the impression that the reason the IFC was moving because they wanted space DESIGNED as shelter space.

Meals may be an issue--but do we have any stats as to how many of the IFC clients are employed downtown? It MAY be that, with Fare Free buses, the new site will be better suited to the clients needs.

What says the IFC?


Goodness, but I'm a contrarian this week!

I'm eager to find out more about the IFC plan, but it looks to me at the moment as though this might be a good thing. I confess (with genuine remorse) that I never spent time volunteering at the old shelter, but I have the impression it's been overcrowded for years; I think the need for more space is genuine and important, and I can't imagine how it could have happened anywhere near the previous site.

The plan to tuck the entire IFC operation into the government campus on Homestead Road was always a non-starter for me, precisely because it cut off any reasonable access to the community and to economic activity. But I'm not automatically worked up about 1.3 miles or so, having spent a year in UNC-Pittsboro.

There are certainly potential issues (e.g., transit access). But at the moment, I'm withholding my disapproval of the idea. If we're simply eager to defend the dignity of the homeless on principle (and rightly so), the prospective neighbors of the new facility may provide plenty of opportunity.

As always, I'm happy to be educated if I'm missing something...

Before we castigate the neighbors of Merritt Mill Road, let us look at where public facilities are located in Orange County. Landfill - next to a middle class and historically African American neighborhood. Only the Administration Building for the schools is at or in an historically black neighborhood. All other schools were closed as a result of integration. The location of the neighborhood that is now protesting the placement and location of the IFC shelter, developed in that area because of racial segregation. Let us look at the history of Orange County and especially Chapel Hill and Carrboro regarding the development of African American neighborhoods before we pooh pooh the neighbors as Nimbys.

Joal Broun

Sadly, this comes as no surprise: A group of residents in the Merritt Mill Road area have sharply criticized the idea of a new homeless shelter being constructed there someday.

The group said in part that it agrees that the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area needs a shelter, but it listed a wide range of problems that it felt having a new shelter along Merritt Mill Road could cause for people living in the area.

How predictable.

The arguments presented by the residents is a perfect example of the definition of NIMBY perfectly.
No different than the Sunrise Road people and Habitat for Humanity.

NIMBY    n. Slang pl. NIM·BYs
One who objects to the establishment in one's neighborhood of projects, such as incinerators, prisons, or homeless shelters, that are believed to be dangerous, unsightly, or otherwise undesirable.

n : someone who objects to siting something in their own neighborhood but does not object to it being sited elsewhere.

Joal, you are certainly correct to point out the institutional racism in the siting of public facilities in Orange County. (That is why I have been insistent that we not build any more landfill-related facilities near the current one.)

But it is incredibly disappointing to hear residents of Pine Knolls spouting the same untrue stereotypes about shelter residents that we've heard for so long from downtown businesspeople. It's hard to find a way to see that as not-NIMBY.

It's also disappointing that the shelter hasn't done more to counter the claims. It's common knowledge that criminals cite the shelter's address when arrested, but no-one verifies their residence. It would be realy easy to demonstrate what's really going on if they tried.


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