Will shelter regs approval clear the way?

Mark Peters of ABetterSite.org writes:

Town Council will discuss homeless shelter regulations again tonight after last month’s requests for additional information.

Planning department staff has provided detailed information from the American Planning Association to address Council questions, and staff has also addressed the timing conflict the proposed shelter guidelines present if passed the week prior to the Interfaith Council’s application to relocate Community House men’s shelter.

If the shelter guidelines are passed tonight, this could indicate the town is clearing the decks for quick approval of the IFC’s men’s shelter application. This application has long been rumored as a “done deal,” and this meeting could be the beginning of this done deal.

The planning director and town manager both recommend that the town should not approve shelter regulations and consider the IFC SUP at the same time. Supporters of a better site for the new men’s homeless shelter agree.

The town manager recommended two choices: 1) Defer a decision on the guidelines until after the currently pending SUP process is completed, or 2) Complete the review and adoption of the shelter guidelines and defer action on the SUP until the guidelines are available (or are rejected).

ABetterSite.org recommends option 2. The site for the publicly funded IFC project was chosen behind closed doors with no public shelter siting guidelines, no publicly vetted site selection criteria and no public selection process.

Approval for requested and committed taxpayer funding may increase for this project by $500,000 on April 25, the same day the shelter SUP application could be approved. Approval could bring the total to $2.3 million in likely funding for the shelter relocation. At this rate of taxpayer contributions, the facility may be 100 percent taxpayer funded in a little more than four years.

Below we have provided videos to address each of the Council Members questions. You can read the full recommendations by Planning Dept Staff in this link, http://chapelhillpublic.novusagenda.com/AttachmentViewer.aspx?AttachmentID=6538&ItemID=186.
• In this video, Council Member Greene wonders if other towns with specific shelter siting ordinance go through an SUP process for approval. APA research shows the majority of towns that have ordinance also have an SUP approval process.
• In this video, Council Member Gene Pease asked how the quarter-mile distance was created. We provide audio from that meeting.

Here are useful links from the Jan. 19 hearing:
• We gave this presentation, outlining issues with the shelter guidelines.
• We provided this markup of the proposed shelter guidelines to point out important issues.
• The town published this video of the meeting.

See ABetterSite.org’s shelter guidelines page for up-to-date information. The town has posted materials for the March 14 meeting on its website, including the shelter guidelines topic.
— Mark Peters, ABetterSite.org

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
Leave a comment


  1. John Kramer

     /  March 14, 2011

    Very well said, Mr. Peters. Sadly, it seems like the town council (and people like George C and Terri B) have already made up their minds and do not want to be confused with the facts. As stated on your website, it is Rogers Road all over again. I guess this is standard operating procedure for liberal progressive governments.

    Keep up the fight and best of luck to you. Siting the shelter there really is an idiotic idea.

  2. Terri Buckner

     /  March 14, 2011

    Since the new Community House won’t be a shelter, I don’t see what difference it makes when this discussion goes forward.

    For those who are interested, the IFC response to all council and audience questions from the first meeting are available at:
    Staff Memorandum

  3. Mark Peters

     /  March 14, 2011


    You are suggesting that IFC’s SUP does not fall under the town’s LUMO definition of shelter?

  4. Lisa Ostrom

     /  March 14, 2011

    The new facility will be defined as a shelter according to the Town’s definition in Appendix A of the Land Use Management Ordinance

    Shelter: A building or group of buildings owned or operated by a non-profit organization
    intended to be used solely for temporary occupancy of homeless persons, with on-site
    supervision during all hours of operation, with or without board for the occupants and
    staff of the shelter. The number of homeless persons permitted to occupy a shelter shall
    be established by special use permit and based on the findings required for the special use

  5. Runner

     /  March 14, 2011


    I understand your overall objective in this matter, but struggle with the reasoning and logic behind your arguments.

    Here’s how I see it. The IFC is on record as saying that they want to build a facility at MLK and Homestead Rds. that supports multiple purposes. Included in these purposes are the following:

    * A transitional housing facility for up to 52 men that is referred to as “Homestart Program”.
    * Permanently provide up to 17 “Emergency” beds for the drop-in homeless on white flag nights.

    To me, the permanent housing of “emergency” beds makes this facility a shelter.

    I would like to see the “emergency” beds removed from this facility and the County pick up the slack and build their own shelter for this purpose.

  6. Terri Buckner

     /  March 14, 2011


    It’s a permanent “option” to have those 17 cots. IFC has said they will not be used if some other group steps up and takes care of the men who would qualify for those cots.

    But keeping the option means that if there is an emergency, they can help even if someone else is providing the service on a day-to-day basis. It’s not in the best interest of IFC or the men who are going through rehab to have drop ins on the floor of the facility. IFC knows that, but to date, no one has come forward and agreed to take responsibility. Do you really think IFC can simply turn their back on those in need? They are in a bind and some people are using that bind as leverage against the rehab facility.

  7. Runner

     /  March 14, 2011


    We all understand the moral statement behind the IFC’s willingness to provide emergency beds on white flag nights, but the defined purpose of the facility is not a moral statement. It’s a factual statment. If the MLK/Homestead Rd. facility provides emergency shelter for the drop-in homeless, it is a shelter.

  8. Terri Buckner

     /  March 14, 2011


    By that logic, if the churches step up and agree to take all of the emergency needs, then Community House is not a shelter and the church is.

  9. John Kramer

     /  March 14, 2011

    amazing twist of logic, Ms Buckner. Are Churches licensed as homeless shelters? No, of course they are not. Nice try.

  10. Runner

     /  March 14, 2011


    If a church/community house/public building is authorized to provides beds (or cots) for the drop-in homeless for 1 day or 365 days per year, it should be clasified as a facility that provides shelter services.

  11. Terri Buckner

     /  March 14, 2011


    I agree too. But that isn’t the way the town definition of a shelter sees it:

    “A building or group of buildings owned or operated by a non-profit organization intended to be used solely for temporary occupancy of homeless persons, with on-site supervision during all hours of operation, with or without board for the occupants and staff of the shelter. The number of homeless persons permitted to occupy a shelter shall be established by special use permit and based on the findings required for the special use
    permit. ”

    Since churches have multiple functions, they will not be defined as a shelter, even if they have 100 beds. I think rehabilitation services, such as those that are not currently offered at Rosemary St, are a separate function too. Which is why I continue to say that the new Community House is not a shelter.

  12. Mark Peters

     /  March 14, 2011


    Good Point. We agree.

    Pocket shelters should be covered under Chapel Hill’s Land Use Management Ordinances (LUMO), but they are not. We pointed this out to the shelter subcommittee, the planning board, and to the town council. In other jurisdictions, poorly constructed ordinances have allowed overconcentration since the pocket shelters are not being accounted for in at-risk overnight social service density considerations. In our jurisdiction, pocket shelters could have the same effect in the Homestead At Risk Campus.


  13. Runner

     /  March 14, 2011

    This is where the logic trail falls off. Shelter Services is Shelter Services no matter how many other functions a facility supports. If I’m wrong with this observation, then I need to go back to school and get re-educated.

  14. Terri Buckner

     /  March 14, 2011

    But there is a huge difference between what you are calling “shelter services” and a rehabilitation program. Freedom House isn’t a shelter, although there may be homeless individuals staying there. A shelter offers a temporary place to sleep; individuals are referred to a shelter by the police or other social service agencies, including prisons; there is no commitment made by the individuals who stay at a shelter; shelter users are on their own during daytime hours; shelter users must be out of the facility by 6 am.

    Rehab participants will live at the facility; they will be ‘admitted’ via an application process; they must make a commitment for how they will behave and what they will accomplish so that their progress can be measured; they will be fully occupied with vocational type skills during the day; they will cook and clean for themselves; they do not have to leave the facility at any time.

  15. Runner

     /  March 14, 2011

    As I see it, If “shelter services” are offered within a “Rehabilitation facility”, then that facility also needs approval to function as a shelter facility. Now, I’m going out for a run.

  16. John Kramer

     /  March 14, 2011

    Mark Peters for mayor of Chapel Hill.

  17. Terri Buckner

     /  March 17, 2011

    At Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s lecture last night, he said (I wasn’t take notes so I’m quoting from the Herald-Sun) the cultural center he wants to build in the area of New York City around where the twin towers were had became highly publicized and that accusations that he and his supporters were being insensitive were exacerbated by untruths in the media, one being that he wanted to build a mosque on ground many consider hallow. He wants to build a cultural center, and what most of us have heard is that he wants to build a mosque. Cultural center–mosque? Rehab Center–shelter?

    Language matters.

  18. Runner

     /  March 17, 2011


    Yes, language matters. The IFC is proposing to build a rehab center with permanent space for an emergency shelter. The SUP will be written to allow shelter activities at the IFC site. Therefore, it’s a shelter.

  19. John Kramer

     /  March 17, 2011

    You all can use all the semantics you want, shelter schmelter. I think it is crap. Call it what you want, EVERYONE knows what it will really be, stuff your labels.

    Why someone who lives outside the boundaries of this issue is so vocal eludes me, Terri B. What is your agenda? Maybe you should petition the county you live in to build a shelter if you are so knowledgeable and passionate about it, then the homeless can live next to you.

  20. Terri Buckner

     /  March 17, 2011

    The homeless already live next to me, John. They live next to you, and they live next to those who are fighting against Community House. They visit the parks, and they walk down the sidewalks next to schools and daycare. And they don’t cause any problems. Why? Because the vast, vast majority of them don’t want to be seen. They just want to live as best as they can without any trouble, just like those of us who have homes.

    Community House is not a Chapel Hill issue. It’s a county issue. I believe your church supports this move John. Why don’t you talk to the people in your congregation about what this means for people in need since you have so little respect for me?