The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday November 26th

New center in Carrboro aims to help day laborers

El Centro Hispano had their open house for their new location on W Weaver Street in Carrboro. The new location is more accessible to residents of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, creating a platform for Latinos to better engage with their community.
Buy Photos El Centro Hispano had their open house for their new location on W Weaver Street in Carrboro. The new location is more accessible to residents of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, creating a platform for Latinos to better engage with their community.

As the state’s largest grassroots Latino organization, El Centro Hispano provides programs and services to more than 10,000 community members.

The organization is primarily headquartered in Durham on East Main Street. It extended its reach to Carrboro and Chapel Hill five years ago and relocated the Carrboro office to 201 W. Weaver St. in February 2014.

“El Centro’s new site is closer to downtown and public transportation, making it more visible,” said Carrboro office coordinator Natalia Lenis.

“It helps us foster new partnerships like this one.”

The new Carrboro location was renovated to accommodate the addition of the Center for Employment and Leadership — a product of the partnerships within the Day Laborer Task Force, including El Centro, Justice United and the town of Carrboro.

The Center for Employment and Leadership will provide a platform to connect employers with prospective employees.

The center will have information on reliable employers and the skill sets of the day laborers looking for new job opportunities, which should reduce the incidence of wage theft, Lenis said.

Wage theft occurs when employers fail to compensate workers for what they are entitled to or when they fail to pay them entirely.

El Centro has worked jointly with Durham Technical Community College to develop English as a second language courses that will be offered at the Center for Employment and Leadership.

One of the center’s courses will be specific to day laborers and designed to facilitate communication with employers, while the other classes will focus on literacy.

The town gave a one-time allocation of $5,000 for renovations the El Centro building needed to accommodate the center, said Nate Broman-Fulks, assistant to the Carrboro town manager, in an email.

Historically, the day laborers have congregated on the corner of Davie Road and Jones Ferry Road looking for temporary work.

“Part of the reason that this has been pushed to the forefront is because of discontent of residents on Davie Road,” Carrboro Alderman Randee Haven-O’Donnell.

In November 2007, the town of Carrboro implemented an anti-lingering ordinance specific to this intersection in an attempt to address concerns of Davie Road residents.

The ordinance prohibited loitering at the intersection between 11 a.m. and 5 a.m. the next morning. This measure was rescinded in 2011.

“It’s not about threatening people with anti-lingering policies; it’s about providing an avenue for employment,” Haven-O’Donnell said.

“The center will provide a dignified, safe and healthy place to find employment.”

On the day of the inauguration, day laborers and El Centro supporters plan to march from the intersection of Jones Ferry Road and Davie Road to the Weaver Street site.

“It’s important to physically and symbolically represent the movement from Davie Road to the center,” Haven-O’Donnell said.

city@dailytarheel.com


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