Eviction Moratorium: How to Access Funds

Funds for rental assistance to prevent eviction based on non-payment are available. How does someone in need access them and what do the funds cover?

What funds are available?

NC operates HOPE funds that assist 88 counties. Twelve counties in NC, including Durham, met a threshold to manage their own distribution program. The fund in Durham is called ERAP (Emergency Rental Assistance Program).

Who can apply?

Renters, not landlords, must complete the application. Landlords are encouraged to inform renters about the option of rental assistance, but it is not required. Landlords must be part of the agreement process, but they can refuse to participate—even when a renter is eligible for assistance.

Who is eligible?

For HOPE and Durham ERAP funds, renters must meet two requirements: 1) Experienced a direct or indirect Covid impact and 2) Be at risk of homelessness or housing instability. This means that a person has either qualified for unemployment benefits, experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs or experienced another financial hardship related to Covid-19. In Durham, clients up to 80% of AMI (Area Median Income—see previous post on AMI) qualify for assistance, while the threshold for HOPE is 50% AMI.

How much assistance can someone receive?

Eligibility is up to 12 months’ rent, including nine months of arrears payments. In Durham, there are some special circumstances where you can obtain an extra three months.

Who receives the funds?

Funds are given to the landlord or utility company in the name of the applicant.

Can someone still be evicted?

Renters who obtain ERAP/HOPE funds and landlord cooperation cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent during the period covered by the rental funds and 60 days after that. However, it is unclear whether they can be evicted for other reasons during this period and up to 60 days after. They can be evicted for any reason including nonpayment more than 60 days after the covered rental funds period. Despite the eviction moratorium, evictions have continued since March 2020 for those who do not have a CDC declaration form claiming a Covid-19 hardship or those who are evicted for reasons other than nonpayment. In Durham, the Chief District Court Judge has stepped in and extended the eviction moratorium through August 31st—two months beyond the State of North Carolina deadline, and one month beyond the CDC order.

How can I apply in Durham?

Go to https://durhamerap.dconc.gov/cares to apply. You need a valid email address. In addition to Durham County Health and Social Services, you can also contact the following community partners for assistance: El Centro Hispano, CAARE, Centre for Home Ownership, Community Empowerment Fund, and Church World Service.

For questions or immediate assistance, please call 919-560-8000 Option 7 or email durhamerap@dconc.gov


Check out other posts in our Eviction Moratorium Series.

Post 1: The Warning Signs

Post 2: How Bad Could It Be?

Post 3: Where Do People Go?


Sessoms, Ben. “NC has COVID money for tenants behind on the rent. Here’s what you need to know.” News & Observer. June 6, 2021. <https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article251901533.html>.

“COVID-19 Information for Landlords and Tenants.” North Carolina Judicial Branch Website.                                         <https://www.nccourts.gov/covid-19/covid-19-information-for-landlords-and-tenants>.

“Durham Emergency Rental Assistance Program now accepting applications.” City of Durham News Website. <https://durhamnc.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=2822&ARC=3949>.

“Durham Rental Eviction Moratorium Extended Through August.” WRAL News. <https://www.wral.com/durham-rental-eviction-moratorium-extended-through-august/19752893/?fbclid=IwAR1d0tIWUwuFKJOLA_QpcZJ6LjhF83goGePlMrSl8sL0bBp5MQxdM6eUjV0>.

“Welcome to Durham Rental Assistance Program.” Durham County Website. <https://durhamerap.dconc.gov/cares>.

Eviction Moratorium: Where Do People Go?

So, the clock is ticking. Where do people go if they are evicted due to the lifting of the moratorium?

Some households will do the best they can to gain new housing, but it won’t be easy. The housing and real estate market is highly competitive right now. Terms like “scorching” and “overheated” are frequently used to describe it, and renters are suffering greatly.  At one point during the pandemic, it was reported to UMD that rent had increased in Durham by 34%. Now, the anticipated influx of workers for big companies like Google and Apple is further exacerbating matters. Affordable housing was already incredibly tight in Durham, so it is possible that some may not have another place to go. Perhaps they will join another household temporarily, but even this—couch surfing—is a form of homelessness.

The other option is to go through the homeless service provider network here in Durham. Those whose homelessness is hardest to solve quickly will wind up in an emergency shelter. It’s likely that many people will be experiencing homelessness for the first time.

According to the CDC, their extension of the eviction moratorium through July was primarily aimed at preventing an influx of people into homeless shelters, which are still under restrictions because they are congregate living facilities. In the case of Urban Ministries of Durham, we have maintained our safety protocols to prevent the spread of Covid-19 by operating at reduced capacity and utilizing a motel for the medically vulnerable. Our main location is down to 83 beds from a pre-pandemic total of 149. UMD will still be operating under these conditions when the moratorium lifts, and we will lack additional space to meet high demand.

Our best response will be to prepare clients as quickly as possible to move out of the shelter and into permanent housing, therefore freeing up space for others in need. However, if the affordable housing market remains tight—and it appears it will—clients will have to stay longer at UMD than necessary.


Check out previous entries in the series on the eviction moratorium:

Post 1: The Warning Signs

Post 2: How Bad Could It Be?

Eviction Moratorium: How Bad Could It Be?

Eviction MoratoriumAccording to housing expert Jim Parrott and economist Mark Zandi, if the eviction moratorium had ended in December 2020, 10 million American renters were behind on payments, and would have been at risk of eviction. To put that in perspective, during the Great Recession of 2008, 7 million Americans experienced foreclosure over a period of four years.

As of late June 2021, The News & Observer reports that according to the National Equity Atlas, 182,000 North Carolinians are behind on rent by an average of $2,700. Nearly 8,000 of these households are in Durham County.[2]

The $900 billion aid package passed in December includes $25 billion for rental assistance that is paid directly to the landlords or utility companies.[3] The Biden Administration asked Congress for an additional $30 billion and was able to secure $21.5 billion by compromise.[4] There is still a fair amount of uncertainty here. Landlords will get their due, and perhaps renters are no longer behind on rent, but are they still protected from eviction? We know from experience that landlords sometimes have a prejudicial or otherwise unjustified reason to want to evict a person and can find loopholes to terminate a housing agreement. Renters may also be unaware of their rights or lack resources to assert their housing rights, prompting them to turn over their keys prematurely. This is especially true if resources like Legal Aid or local eviction programs are swamped with requests for help. Similar to Housing Choice Vouchers, landlords are not required to accept funds made available by the government like these Coronavirus Relief Funds designed to stabilize the housing market.

In North Carolina, this program is called HOPE (Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Eviction). It was launched on October 15, 2020, and generated a response of 37,000 applicants. The program quickly exhausted $133 million of available funding, and went on a hiatus for new applicants in November.[5] The program re-opened to new applicants in mid-May—a backlog of six months. Twelve counties, including Durham, met a threshold to manage these funds locally separate from HOPE.

On June 24th, the CDC extended the eviction moratorium by one month, allowing for the ban to be lifted August 1st. Given the short period of time that these rental assistance programs have been able to accept new applications, it will require all hands on deck to ensure that eligible renters have their applications processed to hopefully minimize the human cost, and diminish the impact on the housing and homelessness service provider network.


Check out our first post in this series here.

[1] Parrott, Jim and Mark Zandi. “Averting an Eviction Crisis.” Moody Analytics. January 2021. <https://www.moodysanalytics.com/-/media/article/2021/averting-an-eviction-crisis.pdf)>.

[2] Sessoms, Ben. “Realtors want eviction ban to end but housing advocates say tenants need more time.” News & Observer. June 19, 2021. <https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article252216478.html>.

[3]Parrott and Zandi.

[4] Ibid., and “Fact Sheet: Housing Provisions in the American Rescue Plan of 2021.” U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. <https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/Main/documents/Factsheet_Housing_Provisions_American_Rescue_Plan_Act-2021.pdf>.

[5] Sessoms, Ben. “More than 37,000 residents applied for help with rent. The funds are set to run out.” News & Observer. November 10, 2020, updated November 17, 2020. <https://www.newsobserver.com/article247108872.html>; and Sessoms, Ben. “NC has COVID money for tenants behind on the rent. Here’s what you need to know.” News & Observer. June 6, 2021. <https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article251901533.html>.

Eviction Moratorium Series: The Warning Signs

We’ve been saying it for a while…a storm is coming.

“But how so?” you ask. “Isn’t the pandemic almost in the rear-view mirror now?”

Logic (and our longings for normalcy) would certainly support this view. But when you start looking harder at data, trends, and observations, you begin to see a different picture.

Back in March 2020, we all felt the huge tension between the need to be safe and the excruciating reality that inequalities in our country would mean that some of our neighbors would suffer more than they had to. Our entire community rallied with donations, much-needed supplies, and contactless volunteer support.

But the surge in “need” we expected never came. There was an increase in requests for shelter opportunities for the well-publicized resource of the Marriott hotel in RTP—particularly among the unsheltered. But it was not the surge. In the race to adjust services and keep everyone safe, it took a while to notice. We saw it first in our reports from the Community Café. How could it be that the numbers of meals served were down significantly? We knew we had reduced bed space for social distancing, but shouldn’t there be more people lined up for to-go meals if they were struggling financially?

It was extremely puzzling. But we noticed that the community was doing a LOT to help make life easier for their neighbors. Congregations were opening their own food pantries, and some groups were delivering groceries directly to neighborhoods. And most importantly, schools were feeding not only students who were learning remotely, but they were often providing groceries for the entire family. The need was there, but the need was being met for the most part. As people go back to pre-pandemic routines, some of that support is beginning to recede.

The next sign related to a delay in the surge? Fewer affordable housing options for client placement during the eviction moratorium period. Because Durham’s affordable housing options are so limited, many “new start” opportunities for a UMD client arise—unfortunately—when someone else is evicted or has to vacate a property. While evictions did not completely stop, the eviction moratorium was working. Households had some stability.

The good news: All of our combined efforts as a community, and with public policy, seem to have worked. The bad news: Durham has a typical eviction filing rate of 900-1,000 per month. While not all of those filings end in eviction, a backlog of 15+ months of households will suddenly become eligible for eviction—not in a cyclical wave—but in a compounded tsunami wave. And it will happen when many of us are not looking—while we are going back to “normal.”

The pandemic surge we expected in early Spring 2020 will hit in Summer 2021, and likely just in time for school to start back.

Storm Going and Storm’s a Coming

The storm is beginning to clear.

For over a year, we’ve been caught in the churning waters of the Covid-19 pandemic. Ironically, this perfect storm has made it easier to see truths that we often ignore. We are interconnected. No man is an island. And we are only as safe as our most vulnerable neighbor. Our community flourishes when we recognize this and work together.

You embraced these truths and took action. You organized meals, donated supplies, sewed face masks, contributed money, and encouraged others to join you. Your efforts meant that UMD never stopped serving our neighbors in need! You took to heart that while we all experienced the same storm, we were all in different boats.

Now, there are troubling signs of more rough weather ahead. Storms that will hit our neighbors experiencing poverty and homelessness the hardest.

Pandemic protections like the eviction moratorium will lift, and individuals will owe months of back rent and/or utility payments. What happens to those neighbors, especially those who don’t qualify for emergency rental assistance? And food insecurity remains a concern as distribution sites that sprung up in response to COVID-19 are closing, even though the pandemic is far from over.

In coming months, more people could find themselves needing UMD’s services, while the rest of us navigate toward our “new normal,” where it will be easy to drift back into our comfort zones and blind spots. Together, we’ve built a beautiful community through this shared experience. Not anchoring ourselves now can lead to abandoning neighbors who are in distress or soon will be.

Before you take off for the summer, cast out your anchor! Become a monthly donor to UMD by May 31st. By giving regularly, you’ll help our program plan for the future and expand our turning radius to respond to community needs. Already giving monthly? That’s wonderful! Please consider an increase—whatever you can manage. It will make a real difference over time.

When we make sure our neighbors are able to stay above water, we all stay afloat. You’ve buoyed your neighbors before, and we know you’ll do it again


COVID-19 FAQs for Volunteer Opportunities

Feeding homeless COVID takeoutWe have responded to the uncertainties brought on by COVID-19 by continuing to provide meals through the Community Café, as food is first among all basic needs. Although we have had to temporarily suspend a regular schedule of clothing and food distribution, we are still providing those resources on an emergency basis.

While safety is our top priority, we also know that hundreds of neighbors depend on meal service each day at UMD. If our kitchen closed, it would negatively impact their health and well-being. We have modified and continue to adjust how we serve to prioritize the safety of our staff and volunteers. We are open to suggestions and would like to hear from you.

Currently, meals are served to the community in takeout containers. We have set up a tent outside with a table to provide contactless meal pick up. Volunteers serving at the table are able to maintain social distance while serving. Masks and social distancing are required to enter the line to receive meals.

Meals are still being provided by onsite and offsite volunteers. Here are some of the options that remain available to groups:

  • You can prepare and serve meals onsite. You are able to prepare meals in the UMD kitchen and assist with serving them.
  • You can prepare meals offsite for onsite service at UMD. After delivering them, you may help plate the meals onsite prior to the beginning of meal service and then leave or you may remain to serve.
  • You can prepare meals offsite and make a contactless delivery to UMD. We can meet you outside and remove the meal from your vehicle. We will utilize volunteers to plate and serve the meal. Contactless in-kind donations are also available if scheduled ahead.
  • We can work through a local, low-cost catering company to provide the meal. Please contact us to obtain the cost for this option. Your check can be sent via mail to cover the cost of this option.

We are in need of volunteers.  Here are some answers to some of the top frequently asked questions about volunteering during this time:

  1. Are we still allowing onsite volunteering? Yes, we continue to depend on a small core of volunteers to assist during meal service. We have streamlined our process to require a smaller team of volunteers to allow for social distance.  These volunteers are essential to meeting the nutritional needs of our clients.
  2. What can I expect when I come to volunteer? We ask that you sign in each time that you come to volunteer. You can expect to assist with some basic meal preparation approximately one hour before service. You may help with set-up preparation, plating food and meal service.
  3. Are there any special requirements? We ask that volunteers wear a mask or face covering. We will provide one if you do not have one. Much like a restaurant, we ask that you not come to assist with meal service if you are not feeling well and/or have a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees.
  4. Can I have my temperature checked when I arrive at UMD? Yes, UMD staff members are required to take their temperature daily before reporting to their work station. We are able to take your temperature using an infrared thermometer upon your arrival.
  5. Is there a process to ensure that the kitchen is being sanitized? Yes, the café and the kitchen are both sanitized before and after meal service.
  6. Is there any congregate dining? New: now that residents have returned to the UMD campus, we are providing meals to the residents only in the café. Masks are required for entry, we have removed tables to limit capacity and have added table-top barriers.
  7. What times are meals served?

         Monday through Friday

Breakfast 8-9am   volunteers arrive at 7am

Lunch   bag lunch

Dinner 6-7pm  volunteers arrive at 5pm

         Saturday & Sunday

Breakfast 9:30-10:30am  volunteers arrive at 8:30am

Lunch 12:30-1:30pm   volunteers arrive at 11:30am

Dinner 6-7pm   volunteers arrive at 5pm

  1. How can I get on the schedule to volunteer? Please check with your coordinator first if you are part of a group. If you would like to volunteer on a day that your group is not serving or as an individual, please contact Viki Baker at vbaker@umdurham.org or 919.682.0538 ext. 125.

An Important Statement from Urban Ministries of Durham

Dear Friends,

On June 29, 2020, UMD was notified that a resident of our emergency shelter who had been hospitalized had tested positive for COVID-19, the illness resulting from the novel coronavirus. That client remains in the hospital. Since learning of this test result, we have worked with Durham County public health officials and Duke medical staff to test other residents and all staff. Two additional residents, who are asymptomatic, have now tested positive for COVID-19 and have been moved to an isolation location as required. Public health officials are conducting contact tracing. All UMD shelter staff have tested negative. As a precaution, Duke medical staff will perform follow-up testing of shelter residents and staff later this week and are offering testing to volunteers who want it.

I want to assure you and all our stakeholders that UMD is taking every step recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local authorities to contain the spread of illness.

Since early March, we have worked closely with Durham County government leaders, public health officials and emergency operations to respond effectively to COVID-19.  We have implemented mask-wearing, regular temperature checks, new cleaning procedures and modified services to protect the well-being of clients, staff and volunteers. These measures have included converting meal service from congregate dining to takeout only and moving shelter residents to temporary quarters at a hotel so they could better adhere to social distancing. UMD thanks the Durham County Commissioners for approving funding for this relocation and the Marriott at Research Triangle Park for hosting clients and shelter staff. The county’s contract with the Marriott-RTP ends July 9, and UMD residents will be returning to campus tomorrow, July 8.

New challenges

When residents return, UMD’s shelter will be limited to 83 beds, rather than 149, due to the ongoing need to ensure social distancing. To address this dramatic reduction in spots, we are appealing to supporters to offer clients temporary or permanent rental opportunities and/or to donate beds and linens so shelter residents have a place to sleep when they do move out. UMD is also seeking contributions to Project ROOF (Removing Obstacles to Occupancy Funds), which will help shelter residents exit to housing more quickly by paying for expenses like rental deposits, first month’s rent and utility hook-ups. Donations to this initiative can be made on our website. Please include “ROOF” in the dedication field. You can learn more about all of these opportunities to make a difference by visiting our home page.

In addition to this appeal, UMD is working with Durham County officials to secure a second location for emergency shelter for medically fragile residents and others who cannot be accommodated due to reduced capacity. We are ready to provide offsite staffing and services, which include case management, workforce development, referral to other needed care and three free meals a day.

We will continue to provide you with updates on important developments related to COVID-19 via emails like this, our website and social media channels. We know that Durham has been identified as a ‘county of concern’ for COVID-19 spread and are focused on maintaining as safe an environment as possible. This will enable UMD to continue offering food, shelter and a future to neighbors in need. Thanks so much for your confidence and ongoing support.

With gratitude,


Sheldon Mitchell, Executive Director

Operation Housing Our Neighbors

The focus of our mission to offer food, shelter, and a future to neighbors in need is always the heart of what we do, but “how” we do that work is just as important. That’s why collaboration is one of our core values. We choose to do this work “with” the community. The current challenge we face and the opportunities it presents is no different.

The Challenge:

The contract for housing the homeless at the RTP Marriott in Durham ends on July 9th. Individual hotel rooms helped keep homeless neighbors COVID-free, but now that it is time to return to UMD, we need to find immediate housing arrangements for 50-60 people. For public health safety, we must cut our 149 person bed list in half. With unemployment at an all-time-high and rising, and evictions looming, more individuals and families will need UMD’s services.

The Opportunities:

To have the greatest impact during our community’s time of need, we need your help to identify and provide housing assistance so that UMD can meet demand while keeping everyone as safe as possible.

This is a tall order. The good news is there are a number of pathways for you to help. We recognize that everyone has been impacted by COVID-19 and it could make you feel like you don’t have much to give. But fear not! If we work together with whatever resources we can bring to the table, we can rise to this challenge! Your role is important! And your contributions are crucial investments in our shared humanity and our shared community by keeping people off the streets during a pandemic and bringing economic stability to our city.

Pick a Pathway:

  • Donate airbeds, mattresses, and linens to UMD. People need shelter, but they also need a bed—especially when the housing process needs to go at warp speed.


  • Open your doors. Do you have a rental property or another space that can be made available for either temporary or permanent housing? Or can you help us make the connection with someone who does have these resources? Housing does not have to be local.


  • 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 people as quickly as possible.

The Details:


Items can be new or gently used. Sizes: Twin and Full. Drop off at the lobby of 410 Liberty Street under the purple awning (M-F, 10am-4pm).

These items are also listed on our Amazon Wishlist for quick order and delivery.

For questions about donations, contact Viki Baker at (919) 682-0538 ext. 125 or vbaker@umdurham.org.

Supply Shelter:

If you are interested in providing shelter, please contact our Clinical Director, Valerie Haywood by calling or texting her at 919-459-7220 (preferred) or send her an email at vhaywood@umdurham.org.

We are open to discussing a variety of options with you to best fit what you are able to offer and our clients’ needs. However, we are hoping to provide short-term 6-12 months emergency housing opportunities or leases, with hopes that some leases could result in permanent housing.

If you hope to provide a rental opportunity, the majority of our clients will need rental units around $600 or less per person. Our case managers can help identify rent arrangements that succeed for both you and the client.

Raise Revenue for ROOF:

Make a gift online and put “ROOF” in the dedication or send a check to UMD at P.O. Box 249, Durham, NC 27702 with memo line “ROOF.”

You can also think creatively on how to work with friends, family and your fellowship groups to raise money as a team social-distance style.

For questions about donations, contact Joe Daly at (919) 682-0538 ext. 135 or send an email to jdaly@umdurham.org.

Does one of these opportunities strike a chord with you? That’s great! Remember, you are a very important part of the team here at UMD. Let’s do this!

Come and Imagine with Us


that you are a 65-year-old Vietnam Veteran. You’ve always lived with your mother and helped her around the house. You learn that your mother has cancer, and she has lived for a while through various treatments. One morning, you wake up and learn she has passed away. Shortly afterward, you discover that the home you’ve always lived in with her was in fact not hers. She never owned that home or any property. She was a long-time renter. Grief and shock lead you back to drinking alcohol after years of sobriety, and you are not able to secure the lease for yourself. The landlord decides to sell the property. In the blink of an eye, you have lost everything. Your mother, your home, and your sobriety. Everything is spiraling out of control. You are homeless and find yourself seeking shelter. You are not the stereotype of a homeless alcoholic.


that you are single mother of 2, staying with your sister. Your sister takes you to work and helps with your children. Then your sister’s boyfriend starts to flirt with you, and your sister blames YOU for his attraction. Your sister then demands that you leave her home immediately, and she will no longer provide transportation or watch your children for you. You have an amazing relationship with your grandmother, and she wants nothing more than to be there for you. But, the one thing you need most is housing, and she lives in subsidized senior housing; a place where you and your children cannot go. You’ve been saving some of your money, so you get a hotel room and Uber to work. Within a month, you are out of money and struggling to manage afterschool care on your own. You can’t get to work 3 days in a row because you have no transportation and no one to watch your kids. As a result, you lose your job. You have no family support, and you and your children are now homeless. You are not the stereotype of a mother who doesn’t care about her children or want the best for them.


that you grew up in a large metropolitan area, and you’ve dreamed of working in the tech field. You hear that RTP is the place to be for all things related to technology and medicine. You do some research, apply for a job, have a Skype interview, and secure a job offer. You take your small savings of $2,000 and move to Durham for a fresh start. You arrive to the area and love it. You love the job, are eager to start and feel like you have finally made the best decision for your future. On your first day of work, you get a call telling you there is a delay in adding you to the schedule due to over-hiring. On day 2, you are told the same thing again. On day 3, you are told that you are actually on a waiting list due to a hiring freeze. You decide to apply for other jobs, while hoping to get a call from the job you thought you’d secured. Only, you have no experience other than a very specific technology trade. You haven’t found a back-up job, and you now have no money and no Plan B. You are seeking shelter. You didn’t just move on a whim. You thought you had a great plan in place. You are not the stereotype of a poor planner or someone who doesn’t look before they leap.

             We all have a story behind the façade we present to the world each day. Our stories are filled with challenges, and facing those challenges almost always means the experience of pain and loss. We truly are not that different from our neighbors who seek help at UMD. But we must hold that truth in tension with the reality that many of us are more insulated from those challenges resulting in our becoming literally homeless. The best human response is to give thanks, practice affirming our own experiences of pain and loss, and extending compassion. But we must begin to walk towards advocacy. The type of advocacy that acknowledges that our safety nets and other worldly privileges can shield us from being unable to imagine the lived experience of someone who is like us, but different than us. Their experiences may be unimaginable to us, but when we stop to hear it holding the tension of how we are alike and how we are different, we can begin to see the world and other people anew. Changing our frame of reference and understanding is how we can then begin to imagine how someone can become homeless. And as John Lennon once sang, we can then begin to imagine a “world that will live as one.”

Empty Bowls FAQs

Empty BowlsThis year marks the 14th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser for Urban Ministries of Durham. Not only is it our largest fundraising event, but it is an opportunity to feel the solidarity of our community working together toward our mission to end homelessness and fight poverty by offering food, shelter and a future to neighbors in need.

Where did Empty Bowls get started?

In 1990 a high school art teacher in Michigan helped his students solve a problem.  They were searching for a way to raise funds to support a food drive.  What evolved was a class project to make ceramic bowls for a fundraising meal.  Guests were served a simple meal of soup and bread, and were invited to keep the bowl as a reminder of hunger in the world.  By the following year the originators had developed this concept into Empty Bowls, a project to provide support for food banks, soup kitchens, and other organizations that fight hunger. UMD held its first Empty Bowls event in 2007. We outgrew the Durham Armory and had to move across the street to the Durham Convention Center. Today nearly 1000 people attend Empty Bowls each year raising well over $100,000.

What happens at Empty Bowls?

Each year 15 of Durham’s foodie-favorite restaurants donate 20 gallons of soup for a massive soup competition doled out in 3 oz. samples. A select group of local celebrities make up a Judges panel where they pick a Judge’s Choice winner. Attendees “vote” for their favorite soup with their dollars for the coveted People’s Choice Award.  While event-goers no longer scoop soup out of pottery bowls, buying an upgraded ticket can guarantee you a chance to take home a locally crafted ceramic or wooden bowl. Most folks enjoy milling around the Convention Center while sipping soup, nibbling on bread and dessert, picking out or admiring bowls, and catching up with friends.

What types of tickets are available?

Soup tickets ($25) are basic entry tickets. Soup and bowl tickets ($50) allow you to sample soup and pick out one of the regular ceramic bowls. Hot Tickets ($75) get you early bird entry to pick out your bowl 30 minutes before the crowd hits. And Premier Tickets ($125) gets you early entry to pick out a professionally-crafted, high-end bowl. Kids 6 and under get in free! Tickets will go on sale January 31st on Eventbrite: https://emptybowls2020.eventbrite.com

Eventbrite charges user fees, is there a way to get around that?

Using Eventbrite is a critical event management tool for a small team—2 full time staff running multiple operations—to sell multiple ticket types to 1000 people and smoothly check-in ticket holders into the event on the big day. The goal of Empty Bowls is to raise as much money as possible to help those receiving assistance at UMD. Without attendees paying the user fees, UMD would have to pay those costs out of pocket. Fees are never fun, but consider it another important way to support UMD.

Ticket prices increased this year, why is that?

This year we wanted to focus on maximizing the increasing popularity of Empty Bowls to raise even more money for our mission. We’re not just feeding the community the night of Empty Bowls, we’re working to raise enough money to cover the nearly 250,000 meals we serve to hungry and homeless people each year in our Community Café.

Can I deduct the cost of tickets on my taxes?

Yes, but you must deduct the cost of any direct benefits you receive (ie. the soup and bowl). Tax deductible amounts for each ticket are as follows: Soup only $17, Regular $25, Hot $50, Premier $62.

What other changes should I expect this year?

Be on the lookout this year for re-usable totes from our presenting sponsor, The Forest at Duke. Use the bag to help carry your bowl and other goodies picked up at the event, and then bring it back to UMD with items needed in our Food Pantry. Each month, UMD provides free groceries and clothing to over 500 eligible households. The overwhelming majority of these households are young families. Recipients are given re-usable bags to carry their food which serves as a reminder that their community is here to help feed them when they have a need.