As Fayetteville white flag shelters run out of beds, city helps bus homeless to Durham shelter

Monique John Image
Saturday, December 23, 2023
Homeless shelters overwhelmed in Cumberland County
Due to not enough room, Cumberland County paid for bus rides to take people to the Durham Rescue Mission for more help

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Some in the community have been raising concerns over how the city of Fayetteville helped bus people facing homelessness to a Durham shelter earlier this week.

City officials said it was just an option for people on the streets to get to a safe location out of the freezing cold. However, observers say it puts the homeless in an even more vulnerable position.

Despite the new Fayetteville Resource Center on Person Street for the area's homeless, Fayetteville officials said it doesn't have the capacity to run as a shelter. None of the city's partnering shelters in the area had beds available during white flag nights this week, either.

Officials said that's why they worked with city partners to organize a free bus ride on Wednesday for those living on the street to head to the Durham Rescue Mission.

"Our focus is on people and we want to ensure that everyone had a warm place and safe place to stay and sleep at night--specifically with the way the weather has been," said the city's spokesperson, Loren Bymer.

However, some community advocates who were there said the city didn't clearly explain what people were getting into when they got onto the bus. Critics said some of the homeless didn't understand that the Rescue Mission required a background check and expected people to attend faith services and do chores around the facility.

"This is a life or death situation, because they very well could have been dropped off at the shelter and turned away, and not knowing if they were going to have a bed that night," Lisette Rodriguez said.

Fayetteville's spokesperson said going to the Durham Rescue Mission was optional for the area's homeless, and that the city would provide a ride back to Fayetteville if it could afford to.

"If we had unlimited resources, it would be a completely different story but we are working within the confines of what resources we do have available and trying to make the most of every opportunity."

The head of the Durham Rescue Mission, Rob Tart, said while Fayetteville and Cumberland County should be better able to provide shelter for the area's homeless, the Rescue Mission is here to help.

"When people show up here, that need clothing, they're needing food and they need a shelter, there is no way on God's green earth we're going to turn them away," he said.