New homeless shelter opens in Chapel Hill

CHAPEL HILL, NC (WNCN) — Virgil Bond is quickly getting settled into the kitchen at the new “SECU Community House” in Chapel Hill.

The Interfaith Council For Social Services moved into the new location on Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard this week….  Replacing the old location on Rosemary Street.

“ Over there at the other place, I guess we’ll call that a dinosaur. But, but, but, it served its purpose, and it served its purpose well,” Bond said.

It’s a new start… for an organization helping homeless men get a fresh beginning of their own.

“I didn’t have any place to go and just thank God the doors here was open, are open for me,” Bond said.

Bond came here after battling substance abuse… and the deaths of relatives who he was staying with.

“Not only is it a living facility for me, I think it will enhance my life, my way of being right now,” Bond said.

When it’s cold – emergency shelter is available – but on any given night… the new building will serve about 50 people… who are going through a program… trying to find permanent housing.

“So you have a large room with 8 people staying but then as you move up to the next stage, you’d be staying in a room with only 4 people, and eventually you move to a stage with only 2 people,” said Michael Reinke, IFC executive director

The SECU community house also has a library… an exercise area.. places for counseling… a pharmacy… and medical and dental clinics.

“I don’t know of another shelter where you actually have a dental clinic located within the shelter. It is an amazing resource,” said Reinke.

“When we have this facility, we’re able to say yes. When somebody says they want to do a writing workshop, we can say yes. When somebody says we’d like to do an AA meeting, we can say yes. When somebody says wed like to do job training classes or get people familiar with internet literacy, we can say yes. Because right now we have the resources to bring the community in and help everybody find a home,” Reinke said.

The new community house did not come without concerns from the community. The town required IFC to prepare a good neighbor plan… And a committee will regularly report to the town council.

“So we’ve been in ongoing conversations with the neighborhoods about how we can best serve the people who need to find permanent housing and also be really good neighbors. That’s really important to us,” Reinke said.

“Well, I have my struggles, just like we all do. But I would rather have being able to be here and dealing with those then being out on the street. And I’m around a good group of people. I’m not just saying that because .. I mean they really have our best interests at heart. They’ll do anything to help,” Bond said.

The new building had a total budget of $5.7 million. The amount raised from the community was approximately half the total cost, with a $1 million grant from SECU and the rest from congregations and individuals.


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