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Re: “Are restrictions on a Chapel Hill shelter keeping the homeless out in the cold?

Many of the basic facts in the article are incorrect. has the detailed history of this project in their report on the website.

In light of the recent inclement weather, it is important to note
that the county operates a shelter 1 mile away at Smith Middle School
during severe inclement weather as the need arises. The Smith shelter
has opened many times in the past few years during similar weather. No
one should be "iced out" of Orange County as you put in the print title, and
IFC knows this because it was stated many times during the approval process.

IFC sold this new facility as a transitional facility. IFC publicly
stated they wanted to focus on transitional services and did not want to
be in the emergency shelter business any longer, but that they would
reluctantly operate a small emergency shelter component until the
community built a new one. IFC publicly stated that having men who were
not committed to the transitional program and not committed to being sober
and drug-free were not compatible with men enrolled in the transitional program.

As IFC indicated during the approval process, the solution to any capacity problem is to
lease or build an emergency mens shelter for the 200+ nights a year that meet IFC's white flag
night criteria. The solution is not to increase the overconcentration of at risk
overnight services around Homestead Park as ABetterSite documents on their website.

Perhaps the most important fact is that IFC alone that determined the
number was going to be 17. This IFC decision happened very, very early
in the process, long before the IFC–developed plan for its neighbors.
Your article has timeline issues on this matter.

IFC is also responsible for the recommendation that emergency shelter
men be fed at their community kitchen and transported nightly to the new

On these two important facts about the limit and the transportation, the
article is incorrect. The article also makes it sound like the neighbors had some
hand in the plan and the 17 decision, but that plan was written after the SUP was
approved with the limit of 17. And IFC wrote the entire plan that is referenced.

The article is also incorrect in stating that white flag nights are limited to those
under 40 degrees. The criteria included other weather conditions that
constituted 200+ eligible white flag nights per year.

Why would neighbors go to IFC to complain about impacts such as
increased public drinking on sidewalks and bus stops? Or increased
disturbances at nearby Oxford houses? IFC has said that they are only
responsible for things that happen on their property and not
off-property issues that arise. The shelter has only been open a few
months and aside from the recent sleet, it has been a relatively mild
winter to date. It is a bit soon to know the long term impacts and they
are not likely to be reported to IFC unless they are on-premises.

IFC committed to the town that it would report basic statistics monthly
on their website, but there are no statistics to be found at this time.
These statistics would be helpful to see how many times the capacity has
approached 17 and if the Smith shelter was open on those nights. These
are the types of facts that should be in the first paragraph of this
article to make your case, but they are notoriously missing. They could
also make the case for building a separate shelter.

To get the whole background story on the approval process,
read the report on

Neighbors are disappointed, but not surprised, that the facts are once
again being misrepresented in a way that denigrates neighbors.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by neighborly on 01/28/2016 at 6:14 PM

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