As noted in the recent message to the community from Roof Above about the growing tent cities in Charlotte, “cities across America continue to struggle with homelessness in the midst of the pandemic, and many have reported increased size and visibility of encampments.” Charlotte is no different.
In our community, Mecklenburg County is the lead agency for providing resources and services for our homeless population. However, from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has continued to partner with the County, as well as other experienced community partners like United Way of Central Carolinas, Roof Above, Salvation Army, Socialserve, The Relatives, Safe Alliance and many others, to help to our homeless neighbors.
At the beginning of the Pandemic, the City seeded $1 million to the COVID-19 Response Fund administered by United Way and Foundation for the Carolinas. This helped to successfully leverage over $16 million in community funds to help residents during the Pandemic, including assisting with shelter and housing needs.
In April, the City provided $1,388,000 for 120 extended-stay rooms and prepared food for individuals and households experiencing homelessness, as well as $1,225,000 for security, utility and first month’s rent deposits to help individuals and families that are transitioning out of homelessness find permanent housing. Additionally, the City also provided $2,228,000 to establish a rent and mortgage relief program, to help people at risk of homelessness avoid evictions and foreclosures. This support includes helping households residing in hotels pay their rent. Also, in April, the City awarded $800,000 to the Statesville Avenue Shelter to expand its facility.
In June, the City approved another $2 million to provide additional supportive housing in order to prevent homelessness associated with the Pandemic, and to further achieve the recommended 6 feet of social distancing in homeless shelters. At the same time, the City provided another $8 million for rent and mortgage relief to help keep people in their homes, including those residing in hotels.
In August, just this week, the City approved the recommendation of the Housing Task Force to provide $3.4 million for rapid rehousing and supportive services to serve individuals and families experiencing sheltered and unsheltered homelessness, and individuals and families unstably housed in hotels. These City funds will leverage $1,020,000 recommended by Mecklenburg County Continuum of Care.
Overall, since 2018, the City has provided $24.4 million to support efforts to end and prevent homelessness.
Our community’s finest hours have always been when we come together to help one another. I’m extremely proud of and grateful for the many agencies that work tirelessly to help our homeless neighbors, and the compassion and concern that all of our residents have shown for our neighbors experiencing homelessness. I also know that there is more to be done. To this end, I am asking that Mecklenburg County, as the lead agency for homeless services in our community, convene key homeless services agencies and influencers to identify ways in which we can continue to work together to serve this vulnerable population during these historic times. I am committed to continuing to partner with the County to find meaningful solutions for our homeless neighbors.