CARY – On Monday nights last winter, the PADS shelter at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Cary averaged about 50 people and topped out for the season at 70.
Unfortunately, the rooms the church uses to provide shelter to the homeless only shelter 30 to 40 people safely, per the fire code.
So PADS organizers are looking for another site that could hold about 50 people to host men Monday nights. Sts. Peter and Paul plans to host women and children.
PADS has about a month to find a location, but there are no leads yet. The shelter season runs from Oct. 1 through April 30.
Church volunteers who run the site plan to feed people and take in as many as are legally allowed, said Meghan Powell-Filler, the PADS and HUD coordinator for the Pioneer Center for Human Services.
“We’re trying to think of alternative ideas,” Powell-Filler said.
Powell-Filler said none of the other churches that host PADS sites have communicated space-constraint concerns.
Sts. Peter and Paul has been a PADS site since the late-1980s.
“We’re not going to abandon the homeless,” site coordinator Rich Ring said.
Ring did add it hasn’t been discussed whether the church would turn people away.
Ring said some of the areas of the church, such as the sanctuary, aren’t secure enough for housing homeless or have furniture that can’t be moved. The only secure area in the church is the basement.
The number of people who need shelter also might increase, and there is a need for a year-round shelter, Ring added.
“The way the economy is going, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number goes up,” Ring said.
In the past, Ring said, PADS volunteers were looking for another location, but it wasn’t until the “11th hour” when another church stepped up.
Lt. Andy Veath of the Cary Fire Protection District said the fire district came in and helped determine the church could boost its capacity by housing people in rooms that were not being used for the shelter.
“We went through [and] calculated the capacity of each room,” Veath said. “We discovered some of those spaces were not being used, and as a result, they were overcrowded.”
However, if the church decides not to expand the rooms they open up to homeless people, “that’s entirely their decision,” Veath said. “All we could do is give recommendations. It’s a difficult situation.”
Want to help?
People who may be able to donate space for a PADS site on Mondays should call Meghan Powell-Filler, the PADS and HUD coordinator for the Pioneer Center for Human Services, at 815-759-7288.