ORANGE COUNTY, N.C. — Quinton Harper has heard all about the arctic blast set to hit North Carolina this weekend, although it’s not him and his family that he’s worried about.
“Thoughts and prayers for folks in our community who are experiencing challenges, whether it be housing insecurity and having to sleep in the elements, or in their cars," said Harper, the director of Activate IFC.
Harper has worked for the IFC, or Inter-Faith Council for Social Service, for three years. The nonprofit’s mission is to confront the causes and respond to the effects of poverty in the community.
The shelter is accepting donations of jackets, blankets and more, which Harper says is a lifesaving resource, especially as temperatures drop. A free, hot meal is another service the IFC is offering throughout the week.
Aside from a full belly, Harper says folks getting meals brings the community together.
“Where folks are going to get a smile, where folks are going to get a warm hug," he said.
The nonprofit’s day services may be plentiful, but at night it can't meet demand for cold-weather cots.
“We can only take three, that’s it. I wish I could take 20, 25, 30, but I can’t because I don’t have the capacity to do that," said Tracey Hagan, HomeStart Shelter for Women and Families manager.
Hagan tells us she’s tired of turning people away.
She is frustrated by the lack of affordable housing and says even if Orange County gives out housing vouchers for its homeless residents, many landlords won’t accept them.
“We need more money. We need more places for people to go in weather like this. IFC is the only agency within this whole county that can provide this. We need more people to do more," she said.
IFC says its shelters are full.
Currently, the Community Health Shelter for Men has 17 beds available for the cold weather. The HomeStart Shelter for Women and Families has only three beds.