This story is part of The Daily Tar Heel's annual Year in Review issue as we look back on 2015. Read the rest of the Year in Review stories here.
The Chapel Hill homeless shelter has finally found a new home.
A brand new State Employees' Credit Union Community House celebrated its opening on Sept. 21 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house.
The location at 1315 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. will be able to provide a transitional home to 52 men, as well as 17 emergency beds used for inclement weather.
The Inter-Faith Council for Social Service raised more than $5.8 million for their new facility in three years, with the SECU being the largest donor to the project — contributing $1 million. About 500 other organizations and individuals also donated to fund the new shelter.
“It’s a pretty historic day for the community for the IFC to have its own building,” Elizabeth Waugh-Duford, temporary homeless programs coordinator for the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness, said.
“The current men’s shelter is leased from the town of Chapel Hill, and to have a new building with state-of-the-art facilities for our homeless folks is a great thing.”
The town of Chapel Hill owns the previous shelter located on the corner of Rosemary and North Columbia streets in the old Town Hall building.
Town officials haven’t decided what to do with the building yet, but the IFC’s community kitchen will continue to operate at the location until 2019.
The community house has enough space to accommodate its residents with a kitchen, dining hall, exercise room, library room, community garden and pharmacy, as well as washers and dryers, bedrooms with desks and drawers, on-site medical and dental care facilities and rooms to receive job coaching and counseling.
“Our former building had charm,” said Stephani Kilpatrick, IFC residential services director, in the center's grand opening speech.
"We can also say, ‘Yes,’ to a space that honors the dignity of our clients."
The project was slated to open in spring of 2015, but due to an increase in construction costs, the project had to be pushed back a few times.
“I’m excited and nervous,” said resident Chris Horton, who is part of the residential staff. He said he will work the third shift making breakfast for all the residents.
Randy Best and Jan Broughton, members of the Ethical Humanist Society of the Triangle, said their organization donates to the efforts of the IFC.
“We’ve been strong supporters of the shelter for a long time,” Broughton said. “It will be more of a home facility for these men.”
The IFC is trying to move the current community kitchen to a new location. The organization would like to combine both its food pantry and kitchen into one complete food operation center called FoodFirst.
There will be a public hearing to discuss the new center on March 22.
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