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Fayetteville is short on resources for the homeless. Facing a cold night, some take a bus to Durham.

Durham shelter has faith-based programs, food and classes


An effort to help homeless people in Fayetteville get shelter in Durham ahead of another bitter cold December night on Wednesday generated criticism from some community activists and drew three members of the City Council to the Day Resource Center to delve into the controversy.

At the same time, several people who boarded a battered old school bus at the city’s recently opened Day Resource Center for homeless residents said they were glad to have a place to go. The bus, provided by the Rockfish Camp and Retreat Center, took nine men and five women on the 90-minute trip to the Durham Rescue Mission, said Rockfish director Casey Perry.

Other people who have been without shelter said they were unsure about taking a bus to an unfamiliar city, and they were concerned whether they would have a place to stay for more than a day. Word spread as people were boarding the bus that they were assured only one night initially.

Still, the Durham shelter offers hope, said Orlando Pone, who said he has been on the streets for several weeks.

“My girl kicked me out,” Pone said while waiting at the Day Center for the bus to arrive.

Since then, Pone said, he has been getting help from True Vine Ministries on Morganton Road with shelter, food and services. “They help everyone, they are good people,” he said.

The Durham Rescue Mission, though, will give him a path forward, Pone said.

“Because they help you after you get through the program — jobs and what-not,” he told CityView.

Princess Ross said she has been homeless for about a year. She heard about the bus to Durham at the Day Resource Center and got on board with her belongings stashed in two trash bags.

“It gives me an opportunity to get my life together and get off the street,” Ross said. “’Cause they don’t have really anything like this in Fayetteville. They don’t have too many resources for homeless women in Fayetteville, period.”

She looked forward to getting housing, she said, and she likes that the Durham Rescue Mission has faith-based programs.

Angela Tatum Malloy, who is active in social issues in Fayetteville and who went to the Day Resource Center to talk about the plan with the homeless people and City Council members, argues that a homeless shelter shouldn’t have a faith requirement to help people. 

Briyanna Miles and her 4-year-old daughter, Briasia, boarded the bus with an overstuffed suitcase plus a bin and a bag of their clothing and other personal items. Then a few minutes later, they got off.

Miles was attracted to the Durham Rescue Mission because it offers GED classes, three meals a day, and a work program. But she said the Rescue Mission staff told her she wasn’t guaranteed she would have a place when she got there.

She said she didn’t want to risk going to Durham, a city she doesn’t know, with the possibility of getting stranded there with her daughter and no place to go if the Rescue Mission didn’t take her in.

Activist Joseph Wheeler — who is also unhoused — of the Homeless Assembly advocacy group posted on Facebook that “the homeless in the city are being herded like cattle and shipped to Durham Rescue Mission.” The comment harkens to old stories of cities giving bus tickets to homeless people to get them out of town.

After Wheeler and other community activists spread the word of the plans and their opinion of it, Fayetteville City Council members Courtney Banks-McLaughlin, Mario Benavente and Malik Davis went to the Day Resource Center on South King Street on the edge of downtown to assess the situation.

Banks-McLaughlin and Benavente spoke with Wheeler, Malloy and other activists, and DeAnna Braggs of the Fayetteville Police Department. Braggs is the department’s homeless coordinator, and she learned that the Durham Rescue Mission could take people from Fayetteville as the resources ran short here.

Davis, who arrived later, talked with the people considering the bus ride.

Braggs said she was trying to alleviate a crisis situation.

“Every day I get calls. People are on the streets. Salvation Army doesn’t have enough beds,” Braggs said, and police officers told her it was turning people away.

“We don’t have enough resources for homeless,” she said. “So my job is to find additional resources. This is just a resource. If people don’t want to go, they don’t have to go.”

She said she searched online for options for the homeless residents to get shelter, and one of the places she found was the Durham Rescue Mission. 

“This is just an additional resource,” she said.

Councilman Benavente said it’s a challenging problem.

“We’re talking about good-better-best,” he said. “Would it be the best thing possible if the resources that were available in a bigger city like Durham, that properly prioritizes health and human services, existed here in Fayetteville? That would be the best situation.

“And I think that’s what’s some folks here are arguing for, is: Why is it that we’re resorting to having to go out of the community or out of the county? Why isn’t this county adequately servicing folks here?”

People need to get out of the cold right away, “so obviously they’re going to go,” Benavente said. But it’s still relevant to question why there aren’t enough resources locally, he said.

Senior reporter Paul Woolverton can be reached at 910-261-4710 and pwoolverton@cityviewnc.com.

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