CHAPEL HILL – Most residents of Chapel Hill and Orange County probably do not think much about the homeless problem because this is not a big city like New York, Atlanta or even Charlotte. But there are still homeless people around the area, even though it is rural.
John Dorward is executive director of the Inter Faith Council for Social Service in Carrboro. He tells WCHL News there are between 200 and 300 homeless people living in Orange County. He says when the weather gets colder, that means their Men’s Shelter and the Women and Childrens’ Shelter serve more people.
“We have some extra people, who normally might live out in a camp or something like that,” Dorward says. “That would come in…and we especially want them to come in on nights when it’s gonna be down in the 20s and it was wet and those sorts of things. So, we are going to see more people for that.”
He says the need is about evenly split between male and females.
“We normally see about 50 men a night, that is what we are doing on a regular basis,” Dorward says. “And the same with the women’s and children’s shelter…somewhere around 50 people a night.”
Dorward tells us that the I-F-C is getting help from another agency in providing warmth to those in need.
“I know that Blanket Orange County, which is a group that collects blankets for us, has already started their process this year,” Dorward says. “And we’ll start to see blankets coming in because we will be handing blankets out on a regular basis for the next several months.”
But Dorward adds that the I-F-C has not forgotten about those folks, who have homes, but are having a hard time providing enough heat.
“We’re also buying little space heaters for people, who maybe don’t have enough heat in their house or don’t have the proper insulation,” Dorward says. “So when it gets really down below freezing that they just are not capable of warming the entire house.”
And for those people, who heat their homes with wood, Dorward says they are providing that type fuel, as well, to those in need.
“We participate with a couple of different groups that do firewood,” Dorward says. “They go out and cut-up trees that people have donated so that there is firewood is available for those people, who still heat with wood either in a fireplace or wood stove.”