Urban Ministries of Durham alleviates some of the Durham homeless crisis

UMD staff member embraces a person in need.

Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024

By Laney Crawley

Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD) mission statement reads, “ to connect with the community to end homelessness and fight poverty by offering food, shelter, and a future to neighbors in need. With their commitment to providing non discriminatory help to the homeless, they do just that.

Unhoused rates in Durham North Carolina are on the rise — a likely lasting effect from the pandemic. What’s new about the homeless crisis in recent years however, is the fact that families including multiple children are also experiencing homelessness. 68% of the homeless are African American.

According to Colin Davis, City of Durham Homeless Services Manager, 37 families are experiencing unsheltered homelessness, per a self-report of people who had called Entry Point Durham seeking shelter or housing. With this same self reporting system, 75 single adults experiencing unsheltered homelessness, 37 families reported they were at risk of homelessness within the next 14 days and 43 single adults reported they were at risk of homelessness within the next 14 days.

He also said homelessness in Durham does disproportionately affect people who identify as Black, and roughly 75% of people experiencing homelessness identify as Black.

UMD employs over 4000 volunteers who are dedicated to helping those in need. According to their annual report from last year, UMD helped 118 people out of homelessness and into permanent housing. 106 people obtained permanent jobs from their assistance and 240,931 meals were served to those suffering from hunger.

“Three local churches, St. Philip’s Episcopal, Trinity United Methodist and First Presbyterian came together in response to seeing so many neighbors who were homeless and in need.” Aalayah Sanders, Director of External Affairs at UMD said. “In recent years, our mission and operations have expanded to include providing a sustainable future for those in need through our case management and workforce development programs.”

They don’t stop after providing families with one meal, or a temporary place to stay. They go above and beyond to make sure people have a plan for their futures.

“UMD operates a “Housing First” emergency shelter, complete with client-centered, housing-focused case management.” Sanders said. “Much of UMD’s operations have changed significantly over the years to lower barriers, improve equity of service, and offer care that is person-focused yet streamlined.”

“Housing first” refers to providing people with secure homes and living spaces before proceeding with finding them jobs.

“It is the policy of UMD to employ, place, compensate, train, counsel, promote, terminate and otherwise treat any and all employees and job applicants on the basis of merit, qualifications, competence and compliance with other organizational policies and goals.” said Sanders.

The organization has three main sectors; their community cafe, which provides three meals a day, every day, to struggling families, their emergency shelter to keep families off the streets, and their food pantry and clothing closet, where they take donations to redistribute to people in need.

“As the City of Durham and the surrounding Triangle community continue to experience economic redevelopment and attract new residents from across the country (and the globe), our commitment to Durham’s most vulnerable is unwavering.” said Sanders. “These rapid shifts mean we must work harder to address gaps in our homeless housing system by providing increased resources and appropriate facilities to meet the need.

UMD is also considering more incentives to help people in need.

“In that spirit UMD and its service partners are advocating for the development of a Homeless Service Center. The Homeless Service Center would serve as a hub for multiple providers to serve unsheltered men, women and families in Durham.” said Sanders.

UMD is dedicated to helping as many people in need as they can, and will continue to do so.

One thought on “Urban Ministries of Durham alleviates some of the Durham homeless crisis

  1. Joseph Arnold says:

    Your services are priceless keep up the great service tor the community may God keep you strong thank you !!!

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