Chapel Hill News

August 4, 2014

IFC raises $5.76M to build homeless men’s shelter

A half-million-dollar grant will make it possible to start building a new men’s shelter this fall, IFC officials announced Monday.

A $500,000 grant will make it possible to start building a new men’s shelter this fall, IFC officials announced this week.

The Inter-Faith Council for Social Services broke ground on the future Community House homeless and transitional shelter in May. Construction at 1315 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. could begin in September, with the group moving in by August 2015, officials said.

The project will culminate 28 years of work to site a community homeless shelter, officials said. The campaign fundraiser started in December 2012.

A $500,000 competitive grant secured recent from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta put the nonprofit agency over its $5.76 million goal, executive director John Dorward said. The campaign also got help from a number of community donors, he said, including 28 congregations and faith-based groups and $1 million from the State Employees Credit Union.

“The Inter-Faith Council is neighbors helping neighbors, and this successful campaign shows how powerful that can be,” Dorward said.

The new shelter will replace one at the corner of West Rosemary and North Columbia streets, in the former Town Hall building. It will provide 52 beds for homeless men, while they get help rebuilding their lives, and another 17 emergency cots that could be used during inclement weather.

The Town Council approved plans in 2011 after a contentious public debate about how to screen men who would use the emergency cots and whether the site was appropriate. The IFC, town and an advisory committee have created rules aimed at easing those concerns.

UNC is leasing the 1.66 acres for the shelter to the town of Chapel Hill at $1 a year for 50 years; the IFC will sublease from the town. A $250,000 federal Economic Development Initiative grant was used last year to prepare the ground and install stormwater features.

“This amazing facility is being built by the people of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County,” said IFC board chair Rebecca McCulloh. “Community House was literally willed into being through the hard work and cooperation of individuals, congregations, foundations, government entities, and UNC. It is a facility for all of the men of Orange County from all of the people in Orange County.”

Former Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy, who co-chaired the Campaign for the new Community House, said it “has always meant a shared commitment to help.” Gordon Merklein, UNC’s executive director of real estate development, also was a co-chair.

“The successful capital campaign shows how deep that commitment is in this community, and how generous people are in the effort,” Foy said. “IFC has demonstrated again how important and valuable its services are, and how much we all value IFC.”

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