Local News

Raleigh YMCA Gets Makeover; Residents Forced To Live Elsewhere

Posted March 4, 2004

— The YMCA on Hillsborough Street is an institution in Raleigh. It is one of only two YMCAs in North Carolina and a handful in the country where people still live. The new YMCA will not include dorms and residents were told they need to find a new place to live.

For 45 years, the YMCA on Hillsborough Street has been an important piece of Raleigh's history. For 92 men, it is more than that. To them, it is home.

"I got laid off from my job, and I needed to be able to stretch my money as far as it could go," resident Wendell Parham said.

The YMCA voted to tear down the facility and build a brand new one in its place -- one without a dormitory. It is part of an international YMCA trend switching its focus to families and fitness.

"The needs, as we understand them, have broadened beyond just men. We serve women, children and families," said YMCA Director George Allen. "Those efforts will allow us to best serve the communities that need us."

Residents were told about the change at a meeting Wednesday. They have 10 months to find a new place to live.

"They give us a wide berth to find something else. They told the guys they are there to assist us, to help us find new housing arrangements that fit our comfort zone," Parham said.

"Initially, it was for men and now it's more family-oriented. We just have to make that adjustment. Whether I agree with it or not, I understand the rationale," resident James Carroll said.

The 90,000-square-foot YMCA built in 1959 is desperate need of updating. Many residents who pay $93 a week for a private room said they are sad to leave, but they are also eager to make it on their own.

"I'd like to get a nice house to stay in and get my life back together," resident William Smith said.

When the YMCA started its dormitory program, it was supposed to be short-term, but that later changed. One man has lived at the Hillsborough Street YMCA for 30 years. Residents have to be out by Jan. 31, 2005. YMCA officials are working to help every person find a new home.

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