Faith-based Groups Partner To Open Day Shelter For Homeless In Wilmington | Old North State Wealth News
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Faith-based groups partner to open day shelter for homeless in Wilmington



WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) —Four Wilmington faith-based groups partnering to open a day shelter to serve the homeless population are now facing challenges, after community members expressed opposition to its location.

Hope Recovery United Methodist Church, Living Hope Street Ministry, The Feast Gathering, and The Anchor United Methodist Church, have been planning for more than six months to open a day shelter.

The scheduled soft-opening for the day shelter at 425 south 4th street was set for last Thursday, March 9. Now, the group is having to look for another building, after learning it couldn’t open due to internal issues with the non-profit corporation board that manages the building.

“Anybody working in the homeless services expects for difficulties to come up. This is not an easy process. It is not an easy thing to do, but we feel called to push forward, regardless of the challenges that come our way,” said Tony Perez, Living Hope Street Ministry director.

In addition, 21 residents living near the church sent a letter Mayor Bill Saffo, Wilmington City Council, City Attorney Meredith Everhart, and New Hanover County Commissioners, asking them to “halt the problematic plan to use a vacant church building in our residential neighborhood as a day shelter for unhoused people.”

The city attorney issued a response to the residents’ letter, it reads in part “City staff has been able to confirm with Pastor Meg McBride that the day shelter on S. 4th Street will not be opening on Thursday as planned.  She and her other two minister partners are taking a pause in their planning, and Pastor McBride has indicated that when they begin contemplating what to do again, they will contact City planning and zoning staff to have a conversation about their anticipated uses.”

The day shelter not opening is also impacting Living Hope Street Ministry, which always had a goal of operating a day shelter, and is to soon lose its operation location on 411 Red Cross Street.

“We did just find out last Wednesday, that we are no longer able to use this parking lot after 60 days. So, basically in 60 days if we are not provided with a building or another lot. We will not have a place to serve our friends,” said Christine Perez, Living Hope Street Ministry director.

Despite the obstacles, they continue to push forward.

Two of the partners in the initiative received grants from the New Hanover County Endowment to help with the opening of a day shelter. Hope Recovery United Methodist Church received $27,800, and United Methodist Church received $32,000.

“Some of those funds were for capital improvements, and some were for operations. None of which, were tied to any specific location. So, we’re able to pivot those dollars to wherever we find the right place to open up,” said Tony.

The day shelter was to serve as a hub offering wrap around services to those impacted by homelessness. Connecting them with housing, food, resources for addiction and mental health.

“They need a place to go. That’s what is comes down to. I mean, they’re not allowed to hang out the library anymore, they’re not allowed to walk the streets. They need a place to go, and we can provide that place for them, but we need a building,” said Christine.

Living Hope Street Ministry Directors, Tony and Christine Perez say the four groups have continued to meet and search for another location to open a day shelter.

They plan to have a new location identified and open within the next six months.

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