Together with our partners, the Town of Carrboro is responding to community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more in this special issue of The Carrboro Courier.
Distributing Free Masks to All
North Carolina has mandated the use of face coverings in indoor or outdoor situations where people cannot maintain a 6-foot physical distance from others. By covering your face when you are out in public, you help reduce the risk of infecting those around you. Get the FAQs. http://townofcarrboro.org/DocumentCenter/View/7644/FAQs-about-face-coverings-mandate
The Town of Carrboro has distributed more than 3,700 free masks since early June. They have been given out at food distribution and COVID-19 testing events, as well as door to door in targeted communities, supporting populations who are disproportionally affected by COVID-19 including low income neighborhoods, historically African American neighborhoods, Latinx and Immigrant communities and senior living facilities.
Residents can pick up masks from the Carrboro Police Department (100 N. Greensboro St) Monday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from Fire Station 1 (301 W Main St) and Station 2 (1411 Homestead Rd) Wednesday and Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m.
Providing Food for Families
In partnership with Orange County, the Town began food distribution events in May to hundreds of households in need. Distributions are held on the fourth Thursdays of the month at Carrboro High School. Organized as drive-thru events, vehicles typically begin lining up hours ahead of the advertised event start time.
On July 23, more than 230 households and 940 individuals were served, with help from 25 volunteers. The NC Cooperative Extension Service supplemented the food boxes with produce from local farms and fresh cheese. Grocery gift cards were provided by the Orange County Department of Social Services to families when the food boxes ran out.
View video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSW3NgTgAMQ
Helping People Stay in Their Homes
The Town received $266,000 of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding from Orange County to be used for eligible expenditures related to COVID-19. The Town Council approved $120,000 of these funds for Emergency Housing Assistance.
Over the past three months the fund has been used to provide rent and utility assistance to Carrboro residents 95 times. About 75% of the funds have been used to help households earning below 30% ($27,250 for a family of four) of our area median income.
Orange County is administering the program and working with community partners for referrals and direct payments.
More information on this program can be found at http://orangecountync.gov/2359/Emergency-Housing-Assistance
If you are in a housing crisis or need help paying for rent:
- Call the Housing Helpline: 919-245-2655
- Monday – Friday, 12 – 4 PM
- Sunday – Thursday overnights, Midnight – 6 AM
- Or email HousingHelp@orangecountync.gov
Supporting Local Non-Profits
The Town Council allocated $40,000 of CARES Act funds to various eligible COVID-19 expenditures to support non-profits that are providing direct assistance to Carrboro households affected by the pandemic.
The Town Council voted on July 14 to award grants to 16 organizations in amounts ranging from $500 to $4,000. All of the selected organizations provide essential COVID-19 related services including food, housing support, and mental health services.
Responding to Need for Testing
Orange County organized a testing event for COVID-19 at Carrboro High School on July 22 with testing provider StarMed. The event targeted populations in the southern part of Orange County to include African Americans and immigrant/refugee populations, farmers and migrant farm workers. About 200 tests were administered to symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals in a drive-thru arrangement. Plans are underway for another testing event in the near future.
For testing locations in Orange County, visit https://www.orangecountync.gov/2451/Testing
Educating on Safety Rules & Health Guidance
The #MaskUpOCNC public health campaign launched on July 26.
The Orange County campaign features artist-designed posters that encourage residents to “mask up” in compliance with state and county mandates. Orange County artists Mike Benson, Marcela Slade, and Bob Goldstein designed a series of eight posters depicting cultural icons encouraging the public to wear a face covering. The posters have been placed across the county. The project is a partnership of communicators across Orange County and is led by the Orange County Arts Commission, with communicators from the Arts Commission, Orange County Health Department, Orange County Public Library, Orange County Office of Community Relations and the Town of Hillsborough on the committee. To view each work in the series, visit www.artsorange.org/maskup.
We also continue to post yard signs around the community and publish guidance on social media about the mandate to wear face coverings and masks.
Assisting Local Businesses
Many local Carrboro businesses are experiencing unprecedented hardship. Together with our partners, the Town is working to make sure no one is left behind during this public health and economic crisis.
The Town Council approved the Carrboro Emergency Loan and Grant Fund on March 24 to assist local businesses with zero-interest loans of up to $25,000. Since its creation, the Town has allocated more than $398,300. See the businesses and nonprofits that were approved in our previous announcement.
The Orange County Board of Commissioners recently announced that nine Carrboro businesses were included in a second round of emergency financial assistance, allocating $5,000 grants to each.
The Town is also providing support to businesses owners to ensure they take steps to enforce face covering requirement for workers, customers and visitors.
Increasing Public Spaces in Downtown
Under an emergency proclamation signed by Mayor Lydia Lavelle on June 26, the Town of Carrboro is relaxing rules temporarily to give businesses more flexibility and the opportunity for increased access to public spaces during the coronavirus pandemic.
Recognizing the unique needs of Carrboro’s varied enterprises, the Town has created “Á la Carrboro” to allow expanding outdoor use of private and public spaces, as businesses indicate interests best suited their needs. This will allow businesses to customize their operating protocols to meet physical distancing and other COVID-19 modifications -- with relaxed local land use regulations related to parking, signage and the use of open areas.
Additional details are included in the proclamation available at Emergency Proclamation of the Mayor of Carrboro
Preparing for UNC’s Campus Reopening
UNC-Chapel Hill Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bob Blouin shared Carolina’s Roadmap for fall 2020 and answered questions of the Carrboro Town Council on July 14. UNC is requiring all entering students to sign a form to acknowledge community standards and stress the importance of wearing masks throughout the community. More at https://carolinatogether.unc.edu/
Live Streaming Arts and Culture
When the pandemic prevented the Town’s annual Freight Train Blues Music Series from playing as usual at Carrboro Town Commons, live stream performances were offered instead on Facebook, YouTube and WCHL 97.9 FM. The event garnered a large number of listeners and viewers, with some as far as Australia and the United Kingdom.
The annual Freight Train Blues Music Series is presented by Music Maker Relief Foundation, Carrboro Tourism Development Authority, 97.9 The Hill WCHL and Carrboro Recreation, Parks & Cultural Resources Department. Freight Train Blues honors Elizabeth Cotton’s contributions to American roots music by highlighting the cultural significance, diversity and vitality of her North Carolina community and its connections to artists across the nation. Performances included Mandolin Orange, Phil Cook, Lightnin’ Wells, Thomas Rhyant and Hiss Golden Messenger.
In addition to Freight Train Blues, the Town has offered a series of virtual streaming concerts via Facebook, as well as activities via our virtual programming page. Be sure to visit www.freighttrainblues.com
Bringing the Parade to You
Town staff collaborated to provide a unique parade through 26 miles of Carrboro neighborhoods on Independence Day. Town staff from Police, Fire, Public Works, Planning and Recreation, Parks & Cultural Resources looped around town, waving from vehicles to connect with as many residents as possible. When the children heard the sirens and clangs of the fire engine, they knew the parade was near! View the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwdC__he_co
Expressing Ourselves through Art
In response to community requests, outdoor paint boards on the front lawn of Town Hall adjacent to the Fire Department have been available through the month of July. These boards are typically installed annually during our July 4th event. In July, they were available all month for residents to use for art therapy and expression.
Community Resources During COVID-19
To access local resources, please visit the Town’s community resource listings at http://townofcarrboro.org/2369/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Information and the Orange County Health Department at https://www.orangecountync.gov/2331/COVID-19-UPDATES
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