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Raleigh Residents Raise the Roof to Halt Homeless Shelter

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RALEIGH — Raleigh thinks it has a solution to its homeless problem - expand the hours at one shelter, and build another. It sounds like a simple solution to a very complex problem, but neighbors say they do not want any part of it.

The city of Raleigh is trying to move its homeless problem out of Moore Square. Some downtown residents say the council wants to move the problem into their neighborhood instead. Tuesday night some of those residents won a minor victory in what could be a long, drawn-out battle.

Downtown residents ripped into members of the comprehensive planning committee for considering a homeless shelter on Wilmington Street.

Some city council members had suggested turning the old O'Neill Chrysler Plymouth building into a 24-hour emergency shelter.

The idea caused an uproar among residents of the Hertford Village and Caraleigh neighborhoods. They say the current shelter, operating out of the former Montgomery Green warehouse just down the street, has already caused enough trouble.

"I'm afraid there could be more breakins, and if they were to break into a house where a widow lady lived, she'd be all alone," Hertford Village resident Cora Wilder said. "She might be able to get to her phone, she might not."

Lin Honeycutt collected signatures from more than 30 downtown business owners who are also angry about having a homeless shelter in their backyard. Honeycutt owns an auto repair shop on Wilmington Street. He's afraid the sight of a homeless person sprawled out on his property will keep customers away.

"You have crime that's involved," Honeycutt said. "You have debris that's left out. You have solicitation with my customers begging for money."

Councilman Paul Coble says other members of the city council tried to pass the buck by suggesting the O'Neill location.

"What they asked us to do is to take a look at a site with no information, vote on it and bring it back so they can cram it down somebody's throat," Coble said. "I don't think that's appropriate."

The city council will continue look for a replacement for the Montgomery Green shelter, which has been expanded to a year-round, 24-hour facility. The expanded shelter opens November 1.


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