The Carrboro Town Council unanimously passed a motion to commit to providing the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service with $97,500 and swore in Carrboro Town Council member Eliazar Posada at Tuesday's meeting.
Posada took the oath of office, having been elected in the May 17 special election. North Carolina General Assembly Rep. Ricky Hurtado, D-Alamance, administered the oath.
Posada fills the seat vacated by Damon Seils when he was elected mayor of Carrboro last November. He will serve the remainder of Seil’s council term, which ends in 2023.
Posada thanked his family, friends and supporters in Spanish and English and credited his mother with his drive for community service.
“I fully credit my mother for my push and willingness to serve," Posada said. "She was the one that taught me that community comes first and that we must serve others in order to serve ourselves. I want to, before we get into all of this heavy agenda, take a moment to honor my ancestors, everyone who I am standing on the shoulders of.”
Seils said that in filling his vacancy, Posada has “put Carrboro back into the lead as the town or city in North Carolina with the most ever LGBTQ+ elected officials.”
Posada is the first openly gay Latino serving in North Carolina.
Representatives from the IFC also spoke during the hearing, requesting an interlocal agreement between Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Hillsborough and Orange County.
The Carrboro-based nonprofit provides for those in need of housing and food support. IFC is requesting the interlocal agreement to support its efforts as the only emergency housing program in Orange County. Among other programs, they provide HomeStart, a 24-hour shelter for women and families, and Community House, a 24-hour shelter for men.
IFC Treasurer Jay Miller said that Chapel Hill and Orange County have already included IFC support in their proposed budgets.
IFC is requesting a total of $650,000 and is asking Carrboro to contribute 15 percent, or $97,500. Chapel Hill's proposed budget has allocated $258,000 and Orange County’s proposed budget has allocated $280,000. According to the IFC's Executive Director Jackie Jenks, Hillsborough is waiting to see the other Towns' decisions.
Jenks said that the number of people experiencing homelessness increases along with the price of housing in the community. She added that the IFC faces more and more people experiencing homelessness every day, some of who have experienced homelessness multiple times.
"People are trying to climb out of that hole, and it is getting even harder," she said. "We sit with people every day, trying to figure out what their plan can be when really, there's nothing here. There's zero units for people who are at 30 percent AMI and below."
She said that affordable and emergency housing needs to show up in the budget more.
Braxton Foushee, Town Council member Barbara Foushee’s husband and the first Black alderman in Carrboro, spoke about the need for affordable housing funding. Braxton Foushee said the amount provided was “a disgrace to this town.”
“When I heard about the amount that was in the budget for low-income housing, I thought it was laughable, because this community has said over and over in a number of polls that housing is one of their number one items,” Braxton Foushee said.
Jenks said that without Carrboro, the IFC would not be able to get an interlocal agreement. She said that those in need of these services feel “invisible” and are uncomfortable speaking in front of the Town Council.
Posada said that as someone who lost his home last year due to a tragedy, housing is at the top of his agenda.
Carrboro Town Council member Danny Nowell made a motion that Carrboro will accept the full funding that IFC is requesting in the Town's upcoming budget for the Fiscal Year 2023, seconded by Posada.
Seils said that the Council is committed to providing for the IFC and will discuss how this money will be allocated into the rest of the FY23 budget with Town Manager Richard J. White during the next work session.
Barbara Foushee said she is “not hesitant” and is committed to supporting the IFC not only in the next budget but in the next five years.
“The most vulnerable in our community count on us to move and to provide services like the services that IFC provides to our communities, and so I'm not hesitant," Barbara Foushee said. "We are the town council. We give direction to our Town Manager about what we want to do. Priorities are reflected in the budget."
Nowell’s motion passed unanimously.
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