The historic Kress Building in downtown Durham epitomizes luxury and elegance: The condos, the largest of which, at more than 1,800 square feet runs nearly $500,000, feature bamboo wood floors, penthouse views, private terraces, 10-to-12-foot ceilings, and, as a real estate website detailed, “handsome quartz counters in the kitchen and bath.”
Directly across Main Street where it intersects with Mangum is a pocket park with benches. Less than five steps from the street corner, grows a patch of brush that provides a bulwark against the wind and cold. It can also serve as camouflage, because unless you part the grass or kneel on the ground, you would not notice anyone sleeping there.
But obviously somebody does, or has.
Because of congressional inertia, just last week extended federal unemployment benefits were discontinued for 1.3 million Americans who have been out of work for more than six months. But North Carolina’s long-term unemployed have already been penalized; the state cut off benefits to those 70,000 people in July.
The distance between the front door of the Kress Building and this makeshift bed is 30 feet. Any of us could fall that far.