Local News

Fayetteville nonprofit wants to build shelter, but church has concerns

Posted July 16, 2015 5:32 p.m. EDT
Updated July 16, 2015 5:52 p.m. EDT

— Army veteran William Harding lives with about two dozen people in a makeshift tent city not far from Operation Inasmuch, a faith-based nonprofit that helps homeless men like him.

“It’s not really hard living out here in a tent, but it can be demeaning,” he said. “It can be humiliating.”

Operation Inasmuch wants to give the homeless their dignity back. The organization, which feeds hundreds of homeless people every week, wants to build a shelter at the corner of Hillsboro and Chance streets that will be large enough to house 40 men.

“It’s hunger for dignity that comes with having a job, having a home,” Executive Director Sue Parker Byrd said. “We’ve met the hunger need of a physical hunger, but we have to now rein it in and say, ‘Where can we make the biggest impact?’”

Across the street, St. Luke AME Church prepares meals to help the less fortunate. In fact, the church gave Operation Inasmuch its building.

But church leaders say Inasmuch already owns five homes for the homeless nearby. They feel the neighborhood is becoming a homeless village.

"When the people leave Operation Inasmuch, they’re over here, knocking on the door asking for handouts,” said Shirley Thompson with the church. “As a matter of fact, I had two this morning. It’s constant, and we just don’t think it’s feasible to have another shelter in this area.”

The church is planning to establish a day care and a senior center, so members are concerned about the growing homeless population. Fatyetteville City Council members will ultimately decide whether the homeless shelter is built.

Lisbeth Marin, a trainer and grant writer at Operation Inasmuch, says a shelter will make a difference for the homeless men.

"They can sleep the night, have a shower, come here for breakfast, go to a Microsoft class, learn how to fill out a job application and then go back to sleep at night,” she said.