A plan to end homelessness and make changes to the Chapel Hill Transit system were the main topics discussed at Tuesday’s Carrboro Town Council meeting.
Corey Root, Orange County’s homeless programs coordinator, gave a presentation on the work being done by the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness. She highlighted an increase in the number of vulnerable households housed, more federal funds secured than in prior years and a decrease in chronic homelessness as successes of the OCPEH over the past year.
However, she identified some challenges to the homelessness situation in Orange County, including an overall lack of change in the number of homeless people in the county. She said this number in Orange County is usually between 130 to 150 people per night, of which on average 29 are unsheltered.
“This is disturbing because it’s been flat for quite a long time,” Root said. "But I do want to point out, we’re talking about at this time last year about 131 folks on one night. It’s a doable thing, that we end homelessness. This is a number that we can really address and do something specific about.”
She said by ending homelessness, she meant building a system to maintain people in their housing or quickly returning them to housing if they do lose it.
Root went on to discuss what kind of funding the OCPEH could use to advance their goals. She cited five initiatives that simply lacked funding, but were ready to implement. She said OCPEH was looking for approximately $1.4 million in funding, of which 15 percent would be contributed by Carrboro.
Council member Randee Haven-O’Donnell praised the report, but said she wanted to hear more about work being done for the homeless working poor in Orange County.
“These are folks that have lived their whole lives, and they want to stay in this community, they work two and three jobs, they can’t afford the rents,” Haven-O’Donnell said.
The next presentation, from Chapel Hill Transit Director Brian Litchfield, discussed planned changes to the system. Litchfield said the two key goals CHT wanted to address in this plan were increased bus service on weekends and increased service on high-capacity routes during peak rider times.
"That’s something (weekend service) that if you have heard our presentation or my presentations over the last 10 years, that has probably been the number one priority for at least 10 years now,” Litchfield said.
Litchfield said in the plan, the A, CM, CW, D, J , N and NS routes would receive Saturday and Sunday service. Additionally, the CCX, CM, CPX, J, NS, NU, S, RU and U would all offer high-frequency service during peak weekday periods.
Town Council member Jacquelyn Gist said overcrowded buses, particularly on the J route she rides, are a big problem.
“This summer when it was like 104, 110, and we were all waiting, the bus would come by, completely full, twice. Today, I had to let the J bus go because there was no room on it,” Gist said.
Gist asked Litchfield to talk to GoTriangle, a separate transportation service that runs buses in the Triangle Area, including Chapel Hill and Carrboro about allowing residents to utilize their buses.
Litchfield said CHT had reached out to GoTriangle with a similar proposal, but there was no concrete movement.
The Carrboro Town Council will not meet next Tuesday, and the next meeting will be Feb. 25.
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