Homeless shelter or transitional rehabilitation center?

The current iteration of Community House on Rosemary Street is a homeless shelter. It provides some of the

Allan Rosen, Community House project manager at IFC.

services of a rehabilitation center, but the primary purpose is the provision of meals and a safe place to sleep. It does offer some counseling and medical services, but the limited space in that facility restricts the ability to offer comprehensive services. One single 25’ x 10’ room is currently used to provide medical treatment, mental health, disability counseling and neurological support; it is the pharmacy and the one-on-one counseling area for the VA representative and social workers; and it is the shelter manager’s office.

During the 2009-10 program year, the current shelter has served 417 men, about 10 percent of those who meet the definition of chronically homeless. Chronic homelessness is long-term or repeated homelessness. The federal guidelines define someone as chronically homeless if they have a mental or physical disability and have been continuously homeless for 12 months or four or more times in the past three years. Sadly, many of these individuals are veterans.

The mission of the new Community House is to promote independence and self-reliance through a service-enriched housing program that ends homelessness and transitions residents back into the community. To meet that mission, IFC has proposed a new facility that will offer transitional housing accommodations for 52 homeless men, a resident dining room, staff offices, counseling rooms, a meeting area and a free clinic for Community House and HomeStart residents.

Emergency Shelter Characteristics
• Serves the immediate needs of the chronically homeless (street people) as well as those who are temporarily down-on-their-luck;
• Receives referrals from hospitals, police and social service agencies;
• Provides a safe place to sleep during bad weather nights;
• Offers temporary overnight accommodations, showers, mats, and snacks; and
• Requires cooperation and good behavior by residents while on the premises.

Transitional Housing Characteristics
• Provides long-term skill training for those people who are considered to be chronically homeless;
• Motivates compliance through resident/staff agreements, goals and objectives;
• Provides vocational training, physical fitness, health and nutritional counseling to help these individuals transition out to independent living;
• Offers social networking and peer support; and
• Requires residents to stay free from drugs and alcohol at all times.

The local debate over siting the new transitional housing facility arises from the decision by IFC to include 17 temporary cots to serve the needs of those individuals who do not qualify for the transitional facility. These men may not have reached a point in their lives where they can commit to a program, or they may only be temporarily down on their luck. Without the IFC, there is no other organization in Orange County, at this time, that provides for the emergency shelter needs of those individuals.

Is it IFC’s responsibility to provide both emergency shelter and transitional housing? Its mission statement states that it “provides shelter, food, direct services, advocacy and information to people in need.” It does not say that IFC provides the homeless shelter needs for all of Orange County. However, since the Rosemary Street facility opened in 1985, IFC has become synonymous with the Orange County homeless shelter. As a 501(c)(3) organization, it has the freedom and the flexibility of defining its own mission. And that is what it is doing with the proposed facility.

Currently, IFC and several local faith organizations are working through plans that will provide emergency shelter services at sites other than Community House. No one wants to risk the success of the transitional program by introducing noncompliant individuals into this new environment. But from a humanitarian perspective, how can they simply walk away and leave these men without protection?

With one of the highest rates of poverty in North Carolina and year-after-year of budget cuts for social services, Orange County could face a massive human services deficit in the next few years. Tomorrow it could be you who needs a place to stay. Should we limit our options for how to meet this very human need, or do we keep those temporary use options open, defined by hard and fast guidelines about how and when they can be used?
– Terri Buckner

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34 Comments

  1. John Kramer

     /  March 11, 2011

    Maybe if they quit subsidizing the Library, OC could afford to deal with the homeless. Yes, non Chapel Hillians would have to pay to use their libraries but since we are all liberals we would be happy to do so to save our homeless. Right?

    It never ceases to amaze me how the local bloggers can whine on and on about the problem and not provide a realistic solution.

    The IFC is trying to solve a problem that the county needs to, but the County is smart enough to let the clueless continue in their idiotic behavior, why not?

  2. Mark Peters

     /  March 11, 2011

    That attempt to distinguish is misleading.

    The new proposal is BOTH Transitional AND Emergency/White Flag Night Housing.

  3. Terri Buckner

     /  March 11, 2011

    No Mark, it isn’t misleading. It will temporarily serve as a shelter for a very small number of men on a very limited number of nights. If it had been in existence last year, with no involvement from the churches, it would have served 14 men on cots for less than 3 months.

  4. Mark Peters

     /  March 11, 2011

    Chris Moran of IFC was quite clear on Jan 4th at the planning board meeting that IFC is requesting PERMANENT 17 beds. He was very clear that he is not requesting this temporarily. Watch the video.

  5. Terri Buckner

     /  March 11, 2011

    You mean a permanent use for 17 temporary cots. These are not beds, they are cots for emergency use. Temporary means they won’t be in use unless there is an emergency. And if the negotiations with the churches works out, they may not ever be needed. That’s the point of my last sentence. None of us know the future.

  6. Mark Peters

     /  March 11, 2011

    A cot is a bed and the number of beds indicates overall capacity without confusing people.

    The current facility has “14 permanent floor spaces” (ifcweb.org) with whiteflag night capacity on top of that. IFC’s stated white flag night historical max is 33, which means that in the current, small facility, there have been 47 (forty-seven) people on the floor (in cots/beds). Same density in the newer facility’s size would be expressed with 3 digits.

    I have talked to ministers who give the white flag night program *maybe* 2 years tops, and certainly not for the 200+ nights per year that qualify based on IFC’s published white flag night criteria.

    The “And if the negotiations with the churches works out, they may not ever be needed.” is a bait and switch.

  7. Terri Buckner

     /  March 11, 2011

    The facility has 52 fixed space beds. If there is a need, i.e., if someone else doesn’t step up, there will be 17 cots to provide temporary overnight accommodations.The goal is to help people get off the street; to get healthy, mentally and physically; to acquire vocational and time management skills. There is insufficient space in the Rosemary St facility to accomplish that goal.

    People are in need. Do you know that there are cancer patients staying at that shelter? Until he died there was a dialysis patient. There isn’t room for those who are sick to have a quiet space to recover. There are two bathrooms for 40+ men. The staff does the best they can, but environmental conditions are working against their efforts.

    As a community we can do much better than the Rosemary St facility. Community House will not meet all of the need. But after 20+ years of searching, we have the opportunity to help some of our homeless men get off the streets rather than simply providing them with space on the floor to sleep.

    There is no conspiracy to move the “shelter” to Homestead Road. That would be counter to the goals of helping those who desire it to get off the streets.

  8. John Kramer

     /  March 11, 2011

    Give up, Mark Peters. The IFC Apologists are going to shout louder than you, and this being Orange County, the facts don’t matter, it is all about if it feels good or not.

  9. Mark Peters

     /  March 12, 2011

    Terri,

    The issues are with the site and the process to select the site. All of the services you mention can be provided with a publicly selected site given the $2.3M in public funding (so far). That site is not unique in its ability to provide those services.

    You really believe that this wasn’t all planned out from day 1? The backroom deal for the land and the CDBG and HOME grants which might actually pay for 100% of the project before all is said and done?

    Once IFC and the town finally revealed the project, neighbors told IFC that they needed to avoid putting all their eggs in one basket because there were issues with this site. But IFC has known all along that it can build up the sense of urgency and overwhelm the town council by going church to church and giving just the positive aspects of this project. Neighbors have no way to reach the same audience as the IFC and IFC refuses to invite us to their speaker events to provide balance – we asked last year and Chris Moran said that they would not. IFC is probably the most powerful organization in Orange County given its reach and ability to control its message. They aren’t arguing the facts, they are going for a social media campaign to overwhelm. The denial and eventual admission about White Flag Nights is a perfect example of this. The way that IFC’s message misleads people (including the Chapel Hill News reporter who had to issue a correction) into thinking that drunk and high men are not allowed on white flag nights is another example.

    Your last post implies that people who oppose *this* *site* do it because they oppose people in need, people with cancer, people battling medical conditions. We do not.

    My family has volunteered and donated to a variety of homeless and impoverished causes since we were in college. This includes IFC, the Durham Rescue Mission, Habitat for Humanity, Appalachian Service Project, C.R.O.S.S., and many other organizations, including support for families through social workers at our schools. We have also been right there spending nights in hospitals and being patient advocates for family members battling cancer. And we volunteer in a number of other areas, such as education.

    But the fact is that people shouldn’t have to give a resume of volunteering as entry into the debate. IFC should not assume that people who oppose their project are against their mission. And worse, they should not actively preach this wrong assumption to others when it has no basis in fact. This assumption is why the UNC students’ survey backfired on them.

    For example, Chris Moran and Tom Whisnant have been actively disparaging neighbors, saying things like “We [IFC] repulse them [the neighbors]” (Chris Moran) and “Not in My Backyard (describing neighbors)” (Tom) to the UNC Board of Trustees. And the disparaging comments made at IFC’s annual meeting. Is this how a faith based organization should treat its neighbors, disparaging neighbors instead of discussing the issues? Is IFC going church to church, synagogue to synagogue, etc. disparaging neighbors and painting us in a negative light?

    Do you really think that the neighbors will get a fair hearing? I have not talked to a single person on either side of the issue who thinks so. They all know this is a done deal. We are simply documenting the issues in hopes that other neighborhoods will know what fate awaits them now that UNC and the town have perfected their backroom playbook for Carolina North and other projects.

    Will the town council live up to their promise in the comprehensive plan to protect neighborhoods by requiring fair share of at risk overnight social services? Only time will tell.

  10. Terri Buckner

     /  March 12, 2011

    Mark,

    As someone who has led a very active social media campaign against the proposed facility, I really don’t think you are in any position to criticize IFC’s rather lame (IMHO) attempts. Sending out FB notices to attend the meeting is hardly “overwhelming.” It doesn’t even come close to the emails, videos, and false accusations coming from A Better Site.

    As for backroom deals, I simply do not believe this was any attempt to get anything by the neighbors as much as it was a decision to end a 20+ year unsuccessful attempt to modify the nature of the service offered at Rosemary St and to do so in a new and improved facility. If I believed the community was being manipulated, I wouldn’t be supporting this move.

    Your accusations that IFC is manipulating data are untrue, but again, I don’t think you have any room to talk. The whole issue of sex offenders that A Better Site has been harping on is absolutely repugnant to me. There are two daycare facilities within the 1000 foot zone of the Rosemary St facility. So sex offenders are not currently allowed to stay on Rosemary St. Those men can give the 100 W. Rosemary address, but that doesn’t mean they are allowed to stay there. By law, they have to give some address. Chris Moran has explained this multiple times and yet you continue to use it as an argument.

    Like your opinion piece in the Chapel Hill News last week when you claimed that 2 undergraduate students collected a survey and then didn’t finish it because they didn’t like the results. You wrote: “The bottom line is that 80 percent of those who live within a mile of the proposed relocation oppose it (75 percent of those “strongly” oppose it). And 80 percent cited proximity concerns with the park and schools.” Did you actually take their data and make your own calculations to justify your claim that 80% of your neighbors oppose the facility? How many unique and completed surveys were collected? IRB statements are submitted in advance of actually conducting the research. 500 may have been their target, but that doesn’t mean they actually accomplished that goal. Personally, I sincerely doubt that 2 undergrad students were able to collect a survey with 500 returns, but even if it were possible, any analysis is meaningless in the absence of reliability and validity data. Without any controls on the validity and reliability of the data, it’s garbage. But for a naive reader, you presented “facts.”

    As I have said many times, if the A Better Site people would simply say that they don’t want the facility in their neighborhood, I would have more sympathy. As it is the persistent twisting of facts and data have left me with no sympathy.

  11. Mark Peters

     /  March 12, 2011

    Terri,

    At how many places of worship will IFC have spoken before the March 21st hearing? How many community organizations? To how many people total?

    How would neighbors reach those same people in an equivalent setting?

    If you believe that there have been false accusations, then you need to substantiate your claims. We have been very forthcoming on the sources of our data in our emails and videos.

    Regarding the sex offender issue, IFC has had many sex offenders at 100 W Rosemary, up to 3 at one time. The sex offender who was recently jailed was staying at 100 W Rosemary for a period of time before being homeless on the street and failing to keep his registration up to date, according to the Herald Sun article.

    Everything in that column is true. I submitted the survey results with the column so that CHN could fact check the article. CHN would not have printed it without checking the facts. The UNC students sent out 500 questionnaires, that is where 500 came from.

    As for the last paragraph, neighbors have reasons for being opposed to this project and we are stating them. I am not clear on what you are really trying to say. That if someone stated that they opposed the facility without giving sufficient reasons that you would say “oh, ok”. I doubt it.

  12. Terri Buckner

     /  March 12, 2011

    Speaking to churches is not social media. You have 1,900 neighbors. How would the IFC reach them?

    What you put in the article was the implication that 500 surveys were returned, and that you were calculating the results of those 500 surveys. I don’t believe it. Even if I did believe it, you didn’t address any of the constraints or challenges to the data (reliability and validity). You found some data that supports your positions, but that isn’t good research or believable statistical analysis. As I recall, your methodology on the crime statistics was similarly challenged. Anyone can manipulate data if they choose to. If your methods aren’t strong, your analysis isn’t credible.

    The neighbors have fear and I understand that fear. I’ve told you before that I lived in a neighborhood that went through this same situation in Virginia. Using bogus statistics to justify or rationalize that fear isn’t credible. Fear, in and of itself, is understandable. And some of the fears I heard expressed at the community meetings need to be addressed by both IFC, the town, and local law enforcement. Some of those fears, such as the distance to the bus stop and having to walk through the dark park, should be addressed totally apart from Community House.

  13. Mark Peters

     /  March 12, 2011

    So, for the record,

    You don’t dispute that IFC has access to and will probably have spoken to dozens of local organizations. IFC has unfettered access to large groups in our community. My questions remain: At how many places of worship will IFC have spoken before the March 21st hearing? How many community organizations? To how many people total? How would neighbors reach those same people in an equivalent setting?

    You don’t dispute that IFC has never invited opposition to these to provide the neighbor’s concerns.

    You don’t dispute that current committed and requested funding for this project totals $2.3M.

    You don’t dispute that future taxpayer funding could pay for 100% of this facility.

    You don’t dispute that the extra capacity of 17 is being PERMANENTLY requested (making this a facility with a permanent capacity of 69 men)

    You don’t dispute that IFC has had 47 men on the floor (33 WFN + 14 permanent)

    You don’t dispute that the churches probably won’t take over white flag nights fully and won’t do it for more than a year or two.

    You don’t dispute the disparaging comments that IFC representatives have made against neighbors.

    You don’t dispute that there was no public process in the selection of this site. You have provided no evidence that a public process occurred.

    You don’t dispute that IFC has taken sex offenders for many, many years at 100 W Rosemary.

    You accuse neighbors of false accusations, but have yet to provide one shred of evidence.

    Regarding the 500 survey, my wording was edited slightly to say “given randomly to 500 residents”. The fact is that the survey was sent to 500 residents and it is evident in the results that at least 118 people responded, probably more. The actual return rate was not provided. The percentage figures were clearly stated in the results. 118 out of 500 is a pretty good return rate for a survey like this.

  14. Mark Marcoplos

     /  March 12, 2011

    I think it is important to fully absorb the fact that many of these homeless are veterans. There are two important aspects to this.
    1) The U.S. government does not fully support and take care of the troops.
    2) The wars that the U.S. is fighting have a direct impact on the gudgets and the functioning of local governments. Thus it is entirely supportable when local governments take a stand on these wars.

  15. Terri Buckner

     /  March 12, 2011

    I dispute many, if not most, of those assertions. But there is not much point in discussing it with you further. Anything I say, you will turn around or ignore, just as you have ignored what the IFC and many from the faith community who support the project say. I’ve heard them listen to the neighbors and ask for suggestions for how to make this a better project. And I’ve seen them offer to make adjustments to their plans based on that feedback.

    But since you and the other vocal neighbors reject anything except moving the facility somewhere else, there is no purpose in trying to negotiate acceptable conditions. I spent a deal of time writing my original post so that it wouldn’t cause an argument or be sidetracked away from the needs of the homeless. Sadly, the needs of the homeless have been virtually ignored in the public dialogue.

  16. Mark Peters

     /  March 12, 2011

    Terri,

    Before you go, will you please answer:

    At how many places of worship will IFC have spoken before the March 21st hearing? How many community organizations? To how many people total? How would neighbors reach those same people in an equivalent setting?

  17. Terri Buckner

     /  March 12, 2011

    I was wrong on the issue of sex offenders at the Rosemary St shelter, and so is Mark. While they have, at times, been allowed at Rosemary St., they will not be allowed at the new facility. As far as I am concerned, any discussion of sex offenders at the proposed facility is just another red herring. It is not IFC’s responsibility to serve every single needy population. For those who are worried about what will happen to the few men who have previously stayed at Rosemary St., please take it up with the Town Council and/or the Board of County Commissioners.

    Here is what the IFC has provided to the town council:

    QUESTION from a Council Member: How can the IFC assure the public that sex offenders will not be allowed into the shelter and not end up spending the night, or simply hanging around the shelter? (NOTE FROM TERRI: The council member is using the word shelter incorrectly.)

    IFC Response: “As indicated at the January 19 Town Council meeting, we do not serve that many sex offenders at 100 West Rosemary Street, which is a permitted, based on legal distances between University Baptist and University Presbyterian childcare operations. Sex offenders, in rare instances, stay with us when staff approves referrals on a case by case basis from law enforcement/probation officials.

    Some offenders have unfortunately used our address dishonestly, and once the address is posted on the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry at http://sexoffender.ncdoj.gov/ and seen by a probation/parole officer, those persons are normally arrested and/or incarcerated. This registry can be accessed by any person or professional at any time. Out-of-state sex offenders are required by law to register with North Carolina officials immediately when they enter our state. Most times sex offenders must get permission to leave a home state from his/her probation/parole officer. “

  18. Mark Peters

     /  March 12, 2011

    Please be more specific about where you assert that I was incorrect about sex offenders.

    Regarding “It is not IFC’s responsibility to serve every single needy population.”, I will point out one more time that this facility has $2.3M in committed and requested taxpayer funding and will most certainly receive much more. This should have been part of the up front discussion that occurred during siting.

    My questions still remain.

  19. John Kramer

     /  March 13, 2011

    LOL, Mark Peters, do you realize how futile it is to argue with an apologist for the shelter? Don’t get yourself all worked up and quote facts, it will do no good.

    I am disappointed but not surprised by the completely rotten deal the neighbors of the proposed shelter site are getting. It is kind of like getting annexed by Carrboro against your will, but at least your tax bill will not increase $3,000. Maybe you can take the “savings” and buy a fence, attack dog, martial arts and firearm training and hardware.

  20. Jon DeHart

     /  March 13, 2011

    Mark,
    Keep asking these questions. All should be answered before Town Council can vote on this SUP .

  21. Terri Buckner

     /  March 13, 2011

    Where does the $2.3M in public funding data point come from Mark?

    How are you wrong on sex offenders? First off, your group was concerned that sex offenders would be staying at the facility (a repeated issue at the public meetings last fall). Then when it became apparent that they would not be, the message switched to worrying where those who were excluded would stay. Concern over the excluded when you are trying to exclude everyone?

    The neighbors who spoke at the guidelines hearings repeatedly spoke against having sex offenders stay in their neighborhood. In other words, they didn’t recognize the language switch and were still concerned about the original argument. Is your group responsible for their misunderstanding? I believe you are.

    Graphics with headings like “Will Sex Offenders Stay at Shelter Anyway?” using your personally constructed crime data (which has been refuted by the CH Police Department) to imply that there is a large (80%) population stay on Rosemary St is just another data manipulation on your groups part. Nothing is totally inaccurate, but the data sources are questionable, the “results” are self serving, and the language used to communicate the message is misleading.

    Numbers are powerful, but in the absence of responsible collection and analysis they are meaningless and, in this case, manipulative. Another case of manipulating data is the claim that 80% of neighbors oppose the shelter, based on a survey of 500 individuals. Ah, but upon questioning we learn that it was really 118 respondents, and there was no statistical analysis beyond your personal efforts at descriptive calculations. All well and good if you had acknowledged the lack of power analysis and not made such insupportable claims as “The bottom line is that 80 percent of those who live within a mile of the proposed relocation oppose it (75 percent of those “strongly” oppose it). And 80 percent cited proximity concerns with the park and schools.”

    80% of a sample representing 6% of your neighbors. Really big difference. You cannot use such a small sample to generalize so broadly based on descriptive statistics alone. But you can publish the results, and all of those who are already afraid/concerned will buy into the arguments and ignore the shallowness of the data you are presenting. In the old days, this was called yellow journalism. Now that we have social media instead of journalism, I don’t know what it’s called but your group is using the technique masterfully.

    Then let’s take the “permanent cot” issue. The IFC plan is to have the option to use those 17 cots. But that doesn’t mean they are going to be used. It’s an O-P-T-I-O-N! They have repeatedly said “The IFC will forgo using emergency cots if another emergency shelter is opened in Carrboro or Chapel Hill.” Why are those cots an issue since your group has said you will continue to oppose the facility even if those cots were removed as an option? Because it’s a really good way to get people fired up and thinking this new facility is a wholesale move of Rosemary St to Homestead Rd? Because it’s the basis you have for claiming the new facility is a “shelter” and not a rehab facility?

    Nothing anyone says is going to change this argument. And in the end, the homeless are the losers, either way this goes. They have been demonized. The messages used to oppose the facility have painted them as sex offenders who are going to haunt the public park day and night because they have nothing better to do. I applaud your personal efforts to support social services financially and through good works. But that is really beside the point.

    If your group successfully stops this move, what will happen next? The Rosemary St facility is a really depressing building, in need of major physical upgrades. But even improvements were made, it’s still too small. Without a new facility where the staffing and programming is dedicated to rehabilitation, IFC can continue providing beds and meals at Rosemary St, but that doesn’t help anyone get off the streets. The individual men lose, and as a community we all lose.

    I speak for myself and do not represent IFC or any other group.

  22. Mark Peters

     /  March 13, 2011

    We have always said that a shelter for single men should be 1000 feet from schools, parks, preschools. It is in our materials posted in multiple presentations at the town website, such as 11/16/2010 planning board and 1/19/2011 town council. Taking drunk and high men 200 night per year, plus transitional housing for those actively on parole, recovering addicts, those with severe mental health issues all contribute to this being an appropriate distance.

    Thus, we have always and continue to advocate for a site that could accommodate all which could be served and this is not that site. There has been absolutely no change in our position. If you believe there has, then provide specific proof rather than these drive-by references.

    Again, I never wrote that 500 people answered the survey, that was edited after submission. The figure to look at is the return rate of the sample survey, which was about 1 in 4, pretty good as surveys go. And remember, this was not our survey. We didn’t create it, we didn’t distribute it, we didn’t calculate the answers. Supporters of the shelter created it and decided not to publish it because it backfired on them.

    The permanent cots should not be approved. It raises the total beds to 69 and has other issues that have been discussed.

    We have cited sources and been clear on how we arrived at answers, but let’s be clear here, this is where your arguments completely lose their value, where you state: “which has been refuted by the CH Police Department”. Where has this been refuted? Where is your proof? Please cite a reference to a document or particular testimony from CHPD themselves or something.

  23. George C

     /  March 13, 2011

    “We didn’t create it, we didn’t distribute it, we didn’t calculate the answers. Supporters of the shelter created it and decided not to publish it because it backfired on them.”

    Mark,

    Unless you have actual proof that the students who created the survey were biased to start with (and just because someone is a supporter doesn’t mean they can’t do an objective survey) and proof that these students deliberately suppressed the results (perhaps they didn’t publish the results because they weren’t statistically significant) you owe those students a very, very big apology. Accusing students of suppressing results because they didn’t prove a pre-conceived hypothesis is a pretty serious accusation, especially for students in training. And just because the professor provided the data isn’t proof of your theory. I review IRB protocols all the time and investigators are asked beforehand how they will determine whether a result is significant. It isn’t at all uncommon to not publish data that doesn’t achieve a statistically significant level.

    So where’s the proof, or where’s the apology?

  24. John Kramer

     /  March 13, 2011

    Another apology for bad behavior by the liberals. Good job, George C.

    Mark Peters, God bless you for trying to reason with these folks. You see, they are never, ever wrong. Keep up the good work.

  25. Mark Peters

     /  March 13, 2011

    George,

    Please show me where I said there was bias in the survey in your assertion “Unless you have actual proof that the students who created the survey were biased to start with…”

    I did not indicate bias, Terri did. Perhaps you should ask her for an apology for the students. Terri said “Another case of manipulating data is the claim that 80% of neighbors oppose the shelter…”. My response was that I didn’t create the survey, so I could not have manipulated it.

    Please reread the posts above because I think that you have gotten confused with who wrote what.

    Regarding suppression, the students wrote a column in CHN and said they were going to do a survey and publish the results. That was a year ago. The survey has never been published despite all of the responses being received 6 months ago. I was quite clear on the draft status of the survey in the CHN column. The students wrote a couple of columns last year and a neighbor in abettersite had coffee with the students a before they announced the survey and after they announced the survey. It was clear from the discussion that they were trying to prove a few things that the survey ended up not proving.

    We will submit the survey public records as part of the evidence on the 21st and you can draw your own conclusions.

    M

  26. Elliot

     /  March 13, 2011

    I was just visiting OrangePolitics.com and realized that those who we really need to provide assistance to are the transgendered day laborers. I hope that there will be room at the shelter for TDL’s.

  27. Terri Buckner

     /  March 13, 2011

    I didn’t say there was any bias, Mark. Here are your words:

    “Almost a year ago, two UNC students shared plans about how they could “best contribute to public discussion by helping to provide objective data” relevant to the proposed Inter-Faith Council shelter for homeless men off Homestead Road. They further stated, “To that end, we are releasing a brief survey to assess the opinions of residents in neighborhoods close to the proposed site.”

    What the heck happened to their survey? My theory is that it didn’t pan out the way they hoped. Pehaps they had preconceived notions which turned out to be wrong. ”
    http://www.chapelhillnews.com/2011/03/09/63000/most-oppose-shelter.html

  28. Terri Buckner

     /  March 13, 2011

    Correction: I said that you used the students’ data to justify your bias.

  29. Mark Peters

     /  March 13, 2011

    Did you just say “you used the students’ data to justify your bias.”?

    What does that mean?

    It is my understanding in talking to neighbors and based on our own counts that most neighbors are opposed to the shelter. The students, who are in favor of the shelter as clearly evidenced in their columns, mail out 500 surveys and get at least 118 (1 in 4) back.

    Their latest results state that 80% are opposed to the shelter, which confirms our own understanding. Now I could see where you could make some claim about our informal counts, but it is completely mindboggling how one could claim that “you used the students’ data to justify your bias.” Could you please rephrase and be more specific?

    If I think that 60% of carolina students are female and a student does a survey and finds that 62% are female, am I “using the students’ data to justify my bias”?

    Also note that that statement clearly is not in indication that I thought the study was biased, which is George’s assertion.

  30. George C

     /  March 14, 2011

    No Mark, my assertion was not that you thought that the study was biased but rather that you were accusing the students of not publishing the results because they, the students, were biased. And I stand by my original position that this is a serious enough accusation that you should show proof that such a bias was the reason they didn’t publish the data rather than a legitimate scientific reason.

  31. Terri Buckner

     /  March 14, 2011

    What I said was that you used unpublished data, without any idea of why it was unpublished other than your own speculation that the data didn’t reveal what the students wanted it to reveal, to justify your bias. It could be bad data, but because as you explain in your last post, it aligned with your bias, you wrote an OPINION piece and had it published. Then you blame the editors at CHN for removing a crucial fact. The low response rate (<30%) is a good possibility for why it wasn't published.

  32. Mark Peters

     /  March 14, 2011

    My opinion piece in the CHN was quite clear. As an opinion piece, it asked why the survey had not been published where I shared a theory and a supposition which are supported by conversations with the students.

    Terri, I would still like an answer to: “At how many places of worship will IFC have spoken before the March 21st hearing? How many community organizations? To how many people total? How would neighbors reach those same people in an equivalent setting? ”

    And we still have at least one outstanding accusation on the table where I have requested information, regarding Terri’s statement: “using your personally constructed crime data (which has been refuted by the CH Police Department)”. I asked for the proof of the CHPD refutation and have not seen that you have provided it.

  33. Mark Peters

     /  March 14, 2011

    I emailed Dr. Panter today and confirmed that 124 surveys were received within the specified timelines which were given to the IRB.

    So 1 in 4 responses were received.

    Also, let’s clear up one point of confusion. Terri said “What you put in the article was the implication that 500 surveys were returned, and that you were calculating the results of those 500 surveys.”

    I went back to what I submitted and it did not say that 500 answered and I said in this discussion: “Again, I never wrote that 500 people answered the survey, that was edited after submission.” Upon re-review, the sentence in my submission was missing the verb and CHN did their best to fill it in.

    Here is what was published: “The UNC IRB filing (Study No. 10-0820) states that the survey was given randomly to 500 residents within a mile of the proposed site.”

    Had I known about the missing verb, I would have suggested “sent randomly to 500 residents”, but I think that “given” was a decent correction under the circumstances. No disrespect meant to CHN in my comments.

  34. Terri Buckner

     /  March 31, 2011

    Cross posted from Orangepolitic.org

    On March 9, 2011, Mark Peters wrote a guest column entitled “Most Oppose Shelter” for the Chapel Hill News. The basis of his column was a UNC student survey of the neighbors surrounding the proposed site for Community House. The results of the survey were not published, prompting Mark to write “My theory is that it didn’t pan out the way they hoped.” In other words, he was accusing the students of squashing data because they did not yield their preferred results.

    Working through the institutional research board (IRB) at UNC, I now have a copy of the the proposal and the data collected by the students. I have had no communication with the students, however, from reviewing their proposal and their collected data, it is clear that they did not receive the response they expected. They expected a 30% response rate, but got a 24.8% return (124 out of 500). In social science research studies, less than planned for results frequently mean the statistical response is not significant, e.g., it is not possible to make any valid claims of meaning. Typically survey research likes to get a 33% response rate.

    So using data that would typically be excluded as meaningful, Mark proceeded to make certain claims. At the end of the column, he summarized by saying “The bottom line is that 80 percent of those who live within a mile of the proposed relocation oppose it.”

    Not only is this claim unfounded based on inadequate data, it also fails to tell the story of the data that was collected. According to the students results, if safety restrictions were guaranteed, such as increased police patrols, increased lighting in the park, emergency phones in the park, good neighbor contract, 34% of respondents would support the facility, 23% would need more information, and 42% would still oppose the move. This is a far-cry from 80% opposition. But as I said, the data is inconclusive.

    I understand Mark and his neighbors opposing this move. I doubt if there is a single neighborhood in this community that would collectively embrace any kind of social service agency. My purpose in posting this information is to correct any impression that UNC students run their research through a preconceived filter. That would be unethical and unprofessional.

    Original column: http://www.chapelhillnews.com/2011/03/09/63000/most-oppose-shelter.html

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