Durham Rescue Mission adding 64 beds to help the growing homeless population

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Durham Rescue Mission COO Rob Tart said he’s been waiting.

On Monday, crews unloaded dozens of mattresses and bedframes that were hauled into the new Mills Family Student Housing facility at the Durham Rescue Mission.

Tart said the $4.2 million building will provide 64 beds that will allow men to have a place to sleep at night while they also learn valuable life skills to get back on their feet and into society.

“We’re finally here, we finally have a certificate of occupancy and we’re ready to roll,” said Tart.

The rescue mission said they planned to open the facility back in November ahead of the winter months. However, Tart said they faced several delays.

“It was a supply chain issue… the crews were here, the finances, we had everything else that we needed but if you don’t have the parts you need to build, you can’t build,” he said.

While the opening of the facility may be behind about four months, Tart said the pieces are finally coming together.

The COO said they plan to open the housing next month and added, “These are nice living conditions where a homeless person can come, can settle and rest, can find some council and direction in their life.”

Staff at the Durham Rescue Mission said housing has become critical as the number of people the shelter supports have grown significantly. Since 2021, Tart said the number of people they serve has grown by 30 percent — they serve about 450 men and women daily.

“Clearly, we’ve seen more people in the last 12 months than any 12 months prior… Our numbers are just increasing, there’s more people coming than ever before,” said Tart.

He said he believes that inflation, including higher rent prices, and rapid growth in the Triangle are part of the reason they’ve seen more people homeless in the area.

“This is an attractive area, and when you’re an attractive area you attract everybody, and we want them, but we have to realize there are ramifications to growth,” Tart said.

In April, the Durham Rescue Mission plans to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

When asked what it means to help somebody, Tart said, “That’s what we believe we’re called to do… There’s nothing more blessed to give rather than to receive.”