As temps drop, demand increases at Chapel Hill shelter
Posted November 9, 2014
Chapel Hill, N.C. — The demand for homeless shelter beds is expected to increase as temperatures drop into the 50s and 40s this week.
At the Community House in Chapel Hill, the town’s only homeless shelter for men, they’re already at capacity.
“At this time last year, our average bed count was somewhere between 36 and 40 at night,” said Elizabeth Waugh-Duford, the shelter’s residential services coordinator. “And we’ve pretty consistently been at 50, which is at capacity.”
When the shelter runs out of beds, they depend on donated yoga mats so residents can sleep on the floor.
Among the reasons more people are turning to the shelter – affordable housing.
“Even folks who have perhaps gotten over the initial crisis or hump that brought them to the homeless shelter are not able to move on because they are unable to find affordable housing that they can actually live in,” Waugh-Duford said.
The Inter-Faith Council for Social Service, which runs the shelter, is building a bigger facility on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The new space will house a long-term program to help men find their way out of homelessness, but it will also mean less emergency beds.
“It will be a big change with how this shelter is run,” Waugh-Duford said. “We are an emergency shelter here. The average stay is probably about 3 month. The new shelter will be primarily transitional.”