Food Distribution Center May Solve Moore Square Feeding Debate

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Charitable groups who want to feed the homeless near Moore Square may soon have a building in which to do so.

A task force charged with balancing the needs of the homeless with complaints from area residents and business owners this week suggested a temporary food distribution facility followed by the creation of a permanent space.

The Council’s Law and Public Safety Committee Tuesday approved recommendations from the Food Distribution Task Force. The group was created after intense public outcry in late August, when charitable groups were told to stop distributing food in the park or face arrest.

Moore Square Trees_092012

John Wall

The task force recommends a temporary food distribution center, an awareness campaign educating organizations on feeding the homeless, other “care points” where groups can distribute food throughout Raleigh and a 10-year plan for a permanent facility to feed and assist homeless with other needs.

Their plan calls for the temporary facility to be located near Moore Square, behind the former Salvation Army building at 215 S. Person St. The 3,200-square-foot warehouse was part of the former Salvation Army complex that is now owned by the City of Raleigh.

If approved by the full Council, the temporary center could open in spring 2014, serving food on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The building’s renovation costs are estimated at $111,000 and include adding temporary restrooms along with tables, chairs, trash cans and refrigerators to the space. The estimated yearly cost of operations is $58,000. City staff said they hope contributions from charitable organizations will defray the costs.

Assistant City Manager Daniel Howe said Wake County will not contribute to the project, but agreed to contribute to a future permanent facility.

“The county did say to us that they were unable at this time to provide any financial assistance to any of the temporary solutions,” Howe said.

Sitting on the grass in Moore Square, Larry Underwood, left, says he sleeps outdoors and Samuel L. Johnson, right, has a place to live on Avent Ferry Road.

Karen Tam / Raleigh Public Record

File photo: Sitting on the grass in Moore Square, Larry Underwood, left, says he sleeps outdoors and Samuel L. Johnson, right, has a place to live on Avent Ferry Road.

Task force members said they will have recommendations for the permanent “one-stop shop” facility within six months.

Councilor John Odom questioned whether the temporary facility would affect recent investments in the Moore Square area, a statement echoed by Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin.

“Your point is a valid point, and that is something we need to address in the long-term solution,” Baldwin said.

The City Council will discuss the item Tuesday.

4 thoughts on “Food Distribution Center May Solve Moore Square Feeding Debate

  1. This issue isn’t feeding the homeless, it’s the loitering, littering, smoking, dropped cigarette butts, and panhandling by the homeless that’s the issue. As long as you have a place to feed them close to Moore square, they will continue to “hang around” the feeding area, continuing to hamper development and businesses in Moore Square.

  2. First of all, the author of this article is clearly gifted with the talent. “The Issue,” I feel, is only perspective: most people complaining about the effects caused by a subclass and subculture of a community are not a part of that subculture. “They/Them/The Homeless/The Poor” are victims of an inefficiently run, oft corrupted, system and are not to blame. It is, in many cases, simply easier for “us” to let “them” take the fall for our failure since they are already at the bottom anyway.

  3. Just so people know, the two larger homeless shelters in Raleigh make everyone leave during the day on weekends and they are all on foot, so that is why they are downtown until about 4pm on Saturday and Sunday. Also, the charities that feed the homeless in Moore’s square do it on weekends only, and that is simply because the main soup kitchen – which is IN A CHURCH – is not open on weekends. Lastly, homelessness isn’t a permanent condition, most people are trying to get out of that situation. For people who do spend a long time being homeless, the common thing about them is usually just a lot of hopelessness . . . so I personally support policy that would extend or at least not attack the little bit of hope that these people might have left. While I see nothing wrong with the Old Salvation Army building, I will say that Moore’s square is still between that and the shelters that many of them sleep at, so it isn’t going to stop homelessness at Moore’s Square.

  4. The issue is not feeding them. It’s the “mass loitering” that’s the problem and it impacts our city as a whole in a negative way. Economic development has been hindered for years while other areas of downtown have thrived. Why do you think this is the case? Moore Square is a 200 plus year old park that is overrun by homeless people, literally destroying the potential of that part of the city. They have to be moved period if we want Moore square to achieve its potential. And no, I am not suggesting not to feed them or help get them on their own feet. Just find another location soon.