The relocation of Chapel Hill’s homeless shelter farther from the University is a necessary change that has been in the works for the past 20 years.
In July, the Chapel Hill Planning Department officially accepted an application from the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service to move its homeless shelter from 100 W. Rosemary St. to the intersection of Homestead Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Residents near the proposed space have consistently protested its proximity to a park, preschools and two other public facilities. At public meetings, they have also been upset about the possibility of decreasing property values.
These arguments are falling on deaf ears, unsurprisingly, as this move is ideal for the town.
The shelter’s move away from the UNC campus would reduce panhandlers on Franklin Street and open up the shelter’s current building for new business. Additionally, the new site has the support of two local churches nearby and better access to the city’s transit system.
The fact of the matter is that nobody wants to live near a homeless shelter. Community centers tend to spark negative reactions from neighbors, but they serve a vital role. Not having a homeless shelter in Chapel Hill sounds absurd and inhumane. But in order to have a homeless shelter, the city needs a place to put it. With any site proposal, there would be an unhappy crowd.
To ensure more productive conversation, opponents of the shelter should instead suggest rules for the shelter’s relationship with their neighborhood, so once it is put into place it doesn’t affect their quality of life.
Progress on the shelter’s move has been made and this board’s stance has not wavered. We sympathize with residents near the new site, but for the betterment of the community, the shelter relocation must happen.
The best thing its soon-to-be neighbors can do is move the conversation forward.