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The Kirby File: Proposed homeless support center downtown, county commissioner says, not just to get out of the cold

Pamela and Kevin Carter say they have compassion for the homeless population, but B Street is not the place for a 'Homeless Support Center.' Not fair to residents and not fair to those without shelter the county is trying to help.


Not in our backyard, Pamela and Kevin Carter say.

Please, the couple pleaded Monday night with the Fayetteville City Council, not in our backyard, where we call the B Street neighborhood home.

“I’m not against the project,” Pamela Carter, 52, said about Cumberland County’s proposal for what is being described as a multi-purpose “Homeless Support Center” to assist the county in addressing community homelessness. “I’m against the location.”

The couple’s plea fell on deaf ears, with the council unanimously approving a special use permit requested by the county that clears the way for additional planning and construction of a $15-$17.3 million center that could be built in the ensuing 18 to 24 months on adjoining land off Grove Street between B Street and Hawley Lane.

It’s not just an overnight shelter for our community’s homeless on a “white flag” winter night of 32 degrees or colder.

The council gave a listen to Glenn Adams, chairman of the Cumberland Board of County Commissioners.

“We’ve had conversations with Cape Fear Valley Medical Center and Fayetteville Technical Community College, and we believe that this is not just a shelter where people come and stay overnight,” Adams said. “This is going to have a shelter part transitional, part for single mothers with children and families, then they're able to work with Fayetteville Tech to be able to move get a skill to move forward so that they're not back out on the street.”

There will be, he said, shelter and education opportunities for homeless men, too.

It’s about “changing people’s lives,” Adams told the council.

“Neither the city nor the county is going to be able to solve this problem alone,” Adams said about the community’s homeless population. “But at the end of the day, the resources that we can put together to be able to do this is going to enhance all of this and move us as a community further along than where we are right now.”

Adams also made another point.

“We’ve had plans for using our Community Development funds to basically build out some more affordable housing for that area,” he told the council. “So, it's not just a one and done for the county.”

Jermaine Walker, director engineering and construction for the county, elaborated on the concept of the facility, including safety concerns.

“The structure is going to be set up and it’s going to be segmented by pods,” he said. “And, so, we’ll be able to isolate single wing men from single women and single families of women with children. And then we'll have the security measures in place with the appropriate card access and those kind of measures will be secure 24/7. We’ll have security, and that security will not only be monitored on site but also, we’ll have a monitoring because that system will be the same enterprise system that the county uses, and the deputies who monitor the courthouse and the Law Enforcement Center will be able to monitor and be apprised of what's going on in the facility.”

Jimmy Kizer of Moorman, Kizer & Reitzel, the independent engineering group, offered the council further assurances about the facility. He said Adams did a good job in giving an overview of the facility and how it will be operated.

“This will be a multi-use as far as trying to hit several needs in the community from the homeless angle on dealing with both individuals and hopefully families, providing services and leveraging the FTCC programs that are right next door to Pauline Jones (Elementary). So, it’s a win-win from that standpoint. Everything's there together, and it seems to fit.”

Apparently, the council seemed to like what it heard.

Councilwoman Brenda McNair said “I’m excited” about plans for the shelter, and she wants to hear more about it as the county moves ahead.

Councilman Deno Hondros said that the city’s Homeless Day Resource Center already operational on King Street is “not a silver bullet or magic wand" that’s going to end homelessness any more than the county’s proposal, but both are “worthy” initiatives.

‘We experience gunfire regularly’

Pamela Carter appreciated learning more about the shelter, but said it just isn’t the right location.

“A shelter of this magnitude should never be built within a residential neighborhood, much less a very small, four-street, troubled neighborhood,” Carter, who resides on Link Street, told council before the vote. “It is inappropriate and wrong. Our four-street, small neighborhood has recently experienced gunfire and we've had two murders by gunfire and a carjacking within days of each other. We've also had someone shot in the leg behind the New York restaurant on Adams Street. No one heard about it, though, because the person survived, thank God, so it didn't get put out in the public realm.

“We experience gunfire regularly.

“Why would you place folks that are already experiencing scary situations in a scary, disadvantaged, impoverished neighborhood such as B Street?” Mrs. Carter asked. “That doesn't make sense to me. Some of the homeless folks who are seeking shelter at this new facility will be struggling with drugs and alcohol addictions. Housing severely addicted folks with a county liquor store and other drugs available within feet of this facility is just not a good thing. It would be very detrimental. It's going to be detrimental to the folks that you are saying, or the county is saying, they want to help.”

She was passionate in her words.

She begged.

She pleaded.

“It's not right for the homeless,” Mrs. Carter said. “It’s not right for the homeowners. It’s not right for the surrounding business owners. It’s not right for Fayetteville. It’s not right for our lower downtown and our downtown area. I'm begging you on my knees, if I could get on my knees and get back up easy, I'm begging you — please, do not approve this. It’s not the best use of the land. It’s not the best location for these at-risk disadvantaged folks. It’s not right for the residents of B Street.”

A homeless facility is not what the late Harry Shaw envisioned, she said, when he led the way to develop Cross Creek Linear Park, near his beloved Hawley Lane, where Shaw grew up as a boy and spent summers swimming in Cross Creek.


Everyone deserves a place to call home. If you have been anywhere in this community, you have seen the homeless – from street corners begging for a dollar or food. But let’s be honest here. You don’t see that many asking for work. Still, if you’ve been downtown on these cold nights, you can find them sleeping in the nooks of businesses. It will give you reason to count your blessing that you have a place to call home.

Pamela and Kevin Carter are not without heart for the homeless. Not in the least. They just believe B Street shouldn’t be the location for this homeless initiative, and there is a safety factor to be considered in what they say already is a suspect area of crime.

There, however, could be something of a silver lining, if you lend an ear to Councilman Derrick Thompson. 

“Wouldn’t it be more of a police presence in that area that would keep the entire community safer?” Thompson directed his question to Jermaine Walker. “Not just the homeless shelter.”

A sound point, councilman, and perhaps a benefit for all.

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

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