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Monday December 5th

IFC shelter displayed to community

Reveals overcrowding, need for new facility

	<p>During a Sunday open house, Charles House, board member on the Inter-Faith Council, explains how living arrangements will be set up at a planned new community center.</p>
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During a Sunday open house, Charles House, board member on the Inter-Faith Council, explains how living arrangements will be set up at a planned new community center.

The second floor of the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service’s Community House on Rosemary Street houses two dormitory-style rooms filled with wooden bunks for residents. Paint peels off a nearby wall, hanging idly. Floors are scuffed, and the beds are made up with faded, donated sheets.

“It is configured for 32 men and it allows a limited amount of space per individual,” IFC board member Charles House said.

The IFC opened the Community House’s doors Sunday to display the state of its facility.

“It’s like the before picture of a before-and-after,” said Allan Ross, the project manager facilitating the shelter’s move.

The IFC’s application for a special use permit to build a transitional housing facility for men near Homestead Road is under review.

The application was passed onto the Chapel Hill Town Council by the planning board and is up for council review March 21.

The new building would be a 16,250-square-foot, 52-bed facility — a 16-bed increase from its current location.

The University would lease the property to the IFC for $1 a year.

Mary Ellen McGuire, pastoral associate at the Catholic Community of St. Thomas More, said she has lived in Chapel Hill for more than two years but has never visited the shelter.

“Clearly, it’s not a place that was meant to be a shelter,” McGuire said. “It’s been pretty eye-opening.”

The IFC opened its current facility 25 years ago. The location, which is owned by the town, was intended to be temporary.

Community House resident David Bridges said in his experience staying at the shelter, he’s seen crowding and lack of beds be an issue — especially for those who need rest to look for or go to jobs.

In the restroom, House said there are three stalls and some basic sink space.

“This is it. It’s dual setup, but I don’t think you’re going to find two fellows in there at the same time. You won’t find a lot of privacy to feel comfortable,” House said.

He added that cots are put into the dining room downstairs to house temporary residents during inclement weather.

Many of those against the shelter’s potential move don’t oppose the proposal itself, but where the shelter will be located.

Some residents have said the new location is too close to parks, day cares and residential areas.

Opponents also say the shelter’s move will add to an already heavy concentration of social services in northwestern Chapel Hill.

But Laurie Tucker, the IFC’s residential services director, said the state of the facility is sub-par and should be seen by the community.

“We just wanted to open it up to the community so they can come in and see how inefficient this building really is, and how we really need to move this somewhere else for the men’s sake,” Tucker said.

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