Editor's Note: It's one thing to read a news story about a particularly damaging Bush Administration policy. It's another thing to understand it from the point of view of the people who are affected by those decisions every day. To help understand the true ramifications of actions the Bush Administration has taken in the last three years, we will periodically check in with people who have been touched by them.
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Chris Moran, executive director of the Inter-Faith Council in Carrboro, remembers wondering, "How are we going to pull it off?" On March 31, 2003, the IFC lost almost $366,000 when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development discontinued federal funding for Project Homestart, a transitional housing facility for the homeless. Instead of giving up, however, the IFC was able to raise independent funds to reopen a new transitional housing facility called Homestart. This is the story in his words.
"Homestart is really a revitalization of what occurred before, that was supported by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program that HUD supported was a transitional housing program ... When the Bush administration decided to change its direction, meaning transitional housing programs wouldn't be funded or refunded as they used to be, we lost our funding. We formed a community-wide planning group to look at how we could continue services for homeless women and children. And what we ended up with was a new Homestart program...
"We would be serving single women as well as families. We would be providing emergency services, as well as longer-term housing. We would be providing support around domestic violence issues for everyone... We would be aligning with more community agencies, that they could own the problem of homelessness rather it just being an IFC responsibility.
"So actually, the new program ... involved us reorganizing the agency and moving all the homeless women and children from Community House ... We can now approach the problem of homelessness in a more holistic way than we did before. We were sort of trapped in the definition that HUD gave us, and now we are using our own definitions...
"I have talked to some women about the change ... I remember one woman ... it was like manna from heaven for her, that's how she described it, because the environment is much more friendly ... It's more serene, there is more room ... there is greater opportunities ... Moms don't have to be with their children 100 percent of the time like they used to be over at Community House... so she felt pretty good about it."