CHARLOTTE, NC – Homelessness is increasing in the city of Charlotte. A new report shows the problem is worsening due to the pandemic and a lack of affordable housing.
But there is some positive news, millions of dollars are being invested into a housing plan that will put a dent in the growing number of people living on the streets.
An 88 room former hotel, will soon be home to people experiencing chronic homelessness.
“We are in the midst of an affordable housing crisis that’s only getting worse,” said Liz Clasen-Kelly.
She is the CEO of Roof Above. They received a two million dollar grant from the State Employees Credit Union Foundation to transform the hotel on Clanton Road.
The building will provide housing for 88 people as well as medical and support services.
“It’s also about this community rising to house all of our neighbors,” said Clasen-Kelly.
The project comes at a pivotal time when homelessness is on the rise in Charlotte.
“Now we’re seeing this additional wave coming because of the pandemic,” said Bridget Anderson, an associate researcher with the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. She says more than three thousand people are experiencing homelessness in the city. And another 28,000 people are behind on their rent and could face eviction.
“It’s a concerning trend because that means there are more and more households who are having trouble just affording this month’s rent and they’re falling farther behind,” said Anderson.
“We are seeing an increase and we are worried about what our neighbors are going to do as the colder temperatures approach,” explained Deborah Woolard with Block Love CLT.
She serves meals to people on the street. Woolard says she’s seeing a troubling trend.
“So what happens when you know someone who was housed mid-last year and are now homeless again. You know, what’s happening. How do we break this cycle of chronic homelessness,” questioned Woolard.
Advocates hope the new investment will be a small step towards a solution.
“In many ways, that’s a drop in the bucket, but for those 88 people we think it’s going to be life-changing,” said Clasen-Kelly.
The Clanton Road project costs a total of 12 million dollars. Each tenant will have a studio apartment with a kitchen. They’ll pay one-third of their income in rent.