New homeless shelter would be a local benefit

October 16, 2013

To the Editor,

Lumberton Christian Care Center, a Lumberton nonprofit, recently received a grant for a new facility that would ease the homeless population in Robeson County. As The Robesonian reported, the proposed facility could provide a bed for up to 45 people, up to a maximum of 90 days. This is good news considering the current center is only able to serve 12 people.

The fuss is the proposed new location for the new facility. Lumberton Christian Care Center’s current location is at 305 E. First St. The new proposed location is at 220 E. Second St., a tenth of a mile away.

Rob Redfearn, who has joined some residents and businesses in opposition, has said that the center would attract “people that really aren’t good for downtown” and that the new location is “not an improvement” to downtown. I beg to differ.

The new homeless shelter as proposed will benefit the county and those it serves. By providing counseling, therapeutic activities, and case management services, the new shelter will not only be able to serve more people than before, but it will also serve as a place where people can gain life skills and learn to be self-sufficient, so they can re-enter mainstream society. Not only that, these residents will be off the streets and not spending their days searching for shelter and pan handling.

Robeson County conducted a Point-in-Time Count on Jan. 30 of this year, which is a count of homeless people in a community on a given night. Per data from the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness, a state nonprofit whose mission is to end homelessness, Robeson County’s total for homeless people at the time was 85.

If that number is accurate, the new shelter will be able to serve more than half of the county’s estimated homeless population and will certainly help fulfill a need. I have no doubt that Renie Mills and her staff at Christian Care Center will implement appropriate policies and procedures to include background checks, curfews, etc., in an effort to continue to do the good work that they have done and to relax the minds of opponents of the facility’s move.

Is a tenth of a mile really something to fuss about when so many more people can be helped? I think not.

Brian Andrew Bell