The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday August 8th

Human Rights Center of Chapel Hill/Carrboro forced to relocate again

A dramatic loss in funding this year has forced the Human Rights Center of Chapel Hill/Carrboro to relocate once more.

After the center’s director Judith Blau was forced to retire last year, the center lost its location on Barnes Street.

Blau had used her own money to pay for the center’s building.

Blau retired from her position as director due to a sudden decline in health. When she left, the group was forced to turn to other nonprofits for help.

El Centro Hispano, a nonprofit that provides services for the Hispanic communities in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, will house some of the Human Rights Center’s programs.

The group also now has an office at the business incubator Empowerment Inc. on Graham Street in Chapel Hill.

The Human Rights Center began in 2009 when students and community members worked together to prevent owners of the Abbey Court Apartment complex, which is now known as Collins Crossing Condominiums, from forcing out low-income and migrant workers.

Asif Khan, volunteer coordinator for the Human Rights Center, said the majority of the center’s volunteers are still UNC students.

“The HRC was originally founded in order to help passionate UNC undergraduates translate their theoretical classroom learning into tangible practices,” he said.

From there, the center expanded to provide community workshops, youth activities, ESL classes, food distribution, partnership with refugees from Burma and support for day-laborers.

The growing organization operated out of a Collins Crossing apartment until it was forced to relocate in March 2012 due to permitting requirements .

That is when it moved to a smaller location in the house on Barnes Street purchased by Blau for the center’s use to continue serving marginalized people in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

Blau, a former sociology professor , also provided much of the money for the group’s supplies until Dec. 31.

Nathan Hollister, chairman of the Human Rights Center, said while the change in location is necessary, it won’t significantly impact those they serve.

“While many local governments avidly support human rights and do their best to protect them, they often lack the political means and resources to do so,” Hollister said. “The Human Rights Center operates within those cracks.”

Hollister said the partnership with El Centro Hispano is temporary, but it’s unclear when the center will find its new, permanent home.

“El Centro is wonderful and we feel that our partnership with them will be a great fit,” he said.

“We intend to have a community center in the future, but that will be dictated by the expressed needs of the communities we serve.”

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