Design work to refurbish a former music venue for use as a homeless day center in Fayetteville is about 90% complete, a joint Homeless Committee was told Thursday.
The center is being planned for a property at 128 S. King St., said Chris Cauley, the director of Fayetteville’s Economic and Community Development Department. The facility will be refurbished for use as the center. It will support and centralize resources for those experiencing homelessness and for those who may be on the cusp of homelessness.
The update came during the first meeting of the newly reconstituted Homeless Committee, which now includes 13 members. The committee met during a special meeting at the Cumberland County Department of Social Services.
The committee also received updates on Cumberland County’s proposed homeless shelter and on a homeless strategic plan. It also selected its chair and vice chair.
Toni Stewart, a member of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners and a former executive director of the Hope Center women’s shelter, was voted in as the committee chairwoman. Fayetteville City Councilwoman Courtney Banks-McLaughlin was picked to serve as vice chairwoman.
The committee last met on Nov. 4.
In December, county commissioners and the City Council amended an interlocal agreement to appoint a committee that would develop a strategic plan for dealing with homelessness.
The city supports homelessness initiatives through partnerships with community organizations and Cumberland County. The Continuum of Care is the lead agency for planning and coordination of homeless activities in the county.
At a Sept. 20 city-county liaison meeting, Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin sought guidance about the homeless day center to see if the project was something for the city and county to partner on.
At the time, Stewart said she preferred that Fayetteville oversee the day center and the county focus on the shelter.
Cauley presented the report on Fayetteville’s planned homeless day center. In addition to providing services, the city has said the resource center will also be used for emergency shelter purposes.
In June 2021, the City Council voted unanimously to move forward on the homeless center.
The state budget adopted in November includes $2 million to address homelessness in the community. The city received $1 million for a homeless day center, and the county received $1 million for a homeless shelter.
Over the next few months or so, Cauley said he expects the city to seek bids on a 12-month construction contract to complete work on the center.
“We’re bidding out a request for qualifications for a partner in the community to run that center. We think we have some folks interested in partnering with the city on that,” Cauley told the committee.
As for when the center will be up and running, Cauley said, “Right now, that’s heavily dependent on when we can put the bid out and finish working with the state to get that additional funding secured. But we expect with the 12-month construction timeline – you’re looking at April or May of next year going online.”
City Councilman Larry Wright asked Cauley if food would be served to the homeless at the center. He also asked what the main goal was for the center.
“This is going to be a place of business. This is Mondays through Fridays, somedays Saturdays, some Sundays to serve meals to the community,” Cauley replied. “But the primary focus here is for persons experiencing homelessness to come and receive services during the daytime. We won’t have a full kitchen, but we will have a warming area. And a multi-purpose room for churches and other community partners to serve us.”
The place is being designed with medical facilities, including examination rooms, Cauley said. “A really cool model that we’ve seen before is putting dental equipment in …”
Stewart said, “If we’re going to change numbers (on the homeless), we have to make sure we have the resources there.”
Assistant County Manager Tracy Jackson provided a brief update on the proposed county homeless shelter, saying the project remained in the early phases of researching what is needed based on what’s in the community and what’s in demand.
“We’re hopeful,” Jackson said, “there will be some movement and more discussion in the next couple of weeks of what this shelter may look like.”
Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at email@example.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.