At its Tuesday afternoon meeting, the Raleigh City Council voted to approve funding for the Oak City Outreach Center.
The move will appropriate $3.1 million to "establish a permanent site and facility for the Oak City Outreach Center,", a 30,000-foot space at 1430 South Wilmington Street which will serve as a multi-service center for the impoverished and homeless operated by the Raleigh-Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness. Currently, the Oak City Outreach Center is operated at 215 South Person Street.
The move has generated controversy
among some Southeast Raleigh residents, but on Tuesday, supporters came out in full force.
There was no public hearing; instead, Mayor Nancy McFarlane asked supporters to stand, to which over a hundred people did. Only two people stood up when McFarlane asked the same of the opposition. After a short deliberation, Council then voted unanimously to authorize the funding, and the room erupted in applause.
Earlier, city manager Ruffin Hall only asked for a minor change in the text of the measure, from "site procurement" to "facility development." The full text of the measure:
There had been worries that a vote on the center would be delayed or rejected; a representative from Red Hat, which "has been a donor & supporter of the Oak City Outreach Center and the Partnership to End Homelessness in Wake County" and was " very optimistic about the proposed permanent location in downtown," emailed Baldwin on Thursday expressing concerns about a potential delay.
In the end, those concerns were for naught. After the vote, the room erupted in applause.
"It took longer than it needed to," pastor Hugh Hollowell, who helped lead the effort, told the Raleigh Agenda
(RIP) ahead of the vote. "I wish it had been faster, but I’ll take it now." (An email to the Outreach Center for comment wasn't immediately returned.)
"I think the best gift we could have given the community is the Oak City Outreach Center," council member Mary-Ann Baldwin said at the end of the meeting.
"Catholic Charities is deeply grateful to the Raleigh City Council for their support of the development of a multi-services center for people experiencing homelessness. This proposed center would not be possible without support from the City of Raleigh and Wake County," Catholic Charities COO Shane Nolan said in a statement. "Catholic Charities is very pleased and humbled to have been chosen to serve as the operator of the proposed Center by the City of Raleigh, Wake County and the Raleigh Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness."
The Council will reconvene tonight at 7 p.m. for its last meeting of the year.
A previous version of this article stated that the city of Raleigh gave $4.6 million for the new center; the right number is $3.1 million. The updated version also clarifies that the Raleigh-Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness operates the center.