Updates on our response to COVID-19

In early April as COVID-19 began to spike, shelter guests and staff were moved to a hotel so that UMD residents could better adhere to social distancing. This was made possible by an arrangement between Durham County and the Marriott at RTP. That contract, unfortunately, has ended, and on July 8, we welcomed shelter guests and staff back to campus. To make our shelter safer for clients, staff and volunteers, we have implemented a number of changes. One of these measures has required us to dramatically reduce our shelter's capacity—from 149 beds to 83. This has only increased the need to help residents secure permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible. What an incredible opportunity to make a difference for men, women and children working to restart their lives during a pandemic! There are three ways you can support this effort:

  1. Donate airbeds, mattresses, twin and full sheets, pillows and pillowcases to UMD. People need shelter, but they also need a bed. Items can be new or gently used. Drop off at the lobby of 410 Liberty Street under the purple awning, Monday through Friday between 10 am and 4 pm. Some of these items are also listed on our Amazon Wishlist for quick order and delivery.
  2. Open your doors. Do you have a rental property or another space that can be made available for temporary or permanent housing? Or can you connect us to someone who does have these resources? Housing does NOT have to be local. The majority of our clients will need rental units around $600 or less per person per month. Please contact Clinical Director Valerie Haywood by calling or texting her at 919-459-7220 (preferred) or emailing her at vhaywood@umdurham.org.
  3. Contribute to Project ROOF (Removing Obstacles to Occupancy Funds). These funds will be used to assist with rental deposits, first month’s rent, utility hook-ups, transportation to identified housing and other needs directly tied to housing homeless neighbors as quickly as possible. Make a gift online and put “ROOF” in the dedication or send a check to UMD at PO Box 249, Durham, NC 27702 with memo line “ROOF."

Throughout stay-at-home orders, UMD has continued to provide hot meals for homeless and hungry individuals in Durham. This has been possible thanks to a core of wonderful volunteers and others who have continued to furnish meals or pay for their preparation. With congregate dining prohibited, our costs have climbed due to the need to package meals to-go and to purchase more takeout-friendly foods, such as breakfast bars, fruit cups and yogurt. Now that residents have returned to campus, we have resumed inside dining for shelter guests only. In doing so, we have installed protective barriers on tables and the serving line, are limiting capacity by having diners eat in shifts and have instituted new cleaning procedures, among other measures. Community clients continue to receive their meals to-go. Meal times at UMD are:


  • Breakfast and bag lunch pickup 8–9 a.m.
  • Dinner 6-7 p.m.

Saturday, Sunday and Holidays

  • Breakfast 9:30-10:30 a.m.
  • Lunch 12:30-1:30 p.m.
  • Dinner 6-7 p.m.

As makeshift food pantries begin to wind down, we’re eager to resume our own services with appropriate modifications to ensure safety. We're exploring models for doing so. We also want to relax criteria for individuals and families to qualify because we know that so many are hurting. Reopening UMD’s Food Pantry to the community will hinge on our ability to secure a reliable food supply, which may mean added costs if we need to purchase items. Please contact vbaker@umdurham.org or 919-682-0538 to make large donations of non-perishable food. We also hope to reopen our Clothing Closet as soon as possible.

Amazon Wish List and Cash Donations

We have created an Amazon Wish List for our COVID-19 preparations. Please click on the link to purchase some of these critical supplies. Items will be shipped directly to our campus, and all gifts are tax-deductible. As a result of the pandemic, we're also incurring a number of unplanned expenses, including for extra staff to properly supervise shelter operations offsite. You can help us offset these costs by making a cash gift to UMD.

Please continue to monitor your email for updated information from us, as news becomes available. If you are not subscribed to our email communications, please sign up by contacting us at devel@umdurham.org

For accurate, up-to-date COVID-19 information, continue to check the NCDHHS, CDC and Durham County Department of Public Health websites, and follow these agencies on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @ncdhhs, @cdcgov & @durhamhealthnc.

As always, thank so much for your generous support.


In a typical year, we make a difference for more than 6,000 neighbors in need

UMD connects with the community to end homelessness and fight poverty by offering food, shelter and a future to neighbors in need. We are THE public shelter for single adults in Durham and the back-up shelter for families. UMD will assist anyone in need, regardless of race, ethnicity, religious belief or non-belief, sexual orientation, gender identification or disability. We offer practical help and genuine hope to shelter residents and community clients through our:

Community Shelter for men, women and families who need a safe emergency place to sleep. We offer case management to all shelter clients to help them create an individualized plan for obtaining permanent housing and sufficient income to remain independent. We have a robust workforce development program to help residents enhance their skills and secure gainful employment, often despite barriers such as long periods of unemployment, medical and mental health problems, past criminal convictions and addiction. 

Community Café, which serves three free meals a day, seven days a week to shelter guests and anyone in Durham who is hungry.

Food Pantry and Clothing Closet, which distribute groceries, clothing, diapers and hygiene products to more than 500 households per month to help those with extremely limited means make ends meet.



Play SPENT, our online game about surviving poverty

Launched by McKinney in 2011, SPENT has been played more than 10 million times across the globe. The goal of the game: Start with $1,000 and make the decisions necessary to reach the end of the month with something still left in your pocket. We wish you luck. 







410 Liberty Street, Durham, NC 27701 | (919) 682-0538

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