Economy forces North Charlotte shelter to turn away women and children

By Brigida Mack - email

Charlotte, NC (WBTV) -  The lagging economy is forcing the Salvation Army's women and children's shelter to turn people away in North Charlotte. Shelter officials say the amount of time it takes to find a job has more than doubled the time people stay at the shelter. Instead of the average three month stay, women and their families are now staying six months and longer. "It's very tough, " said Tiffany Cox who's been at the shelter since April and still can't find work. "I'm looking but it seem like nobody is hiring or everybody is already staffed up."

Shelter director Deronda Metz says Cox is just part of a disturbing trend that's kept the 300 bed shelter packed every night with no vacancies for weeks. "The job market has gotten real competitive," said Metz. "People that got laid off in certain position, corporations, are applying for those jobs. So it makes it more difficult for our women to actually compete for those jobs." Metz said they've had the tough task of telling some they can't stay. "It's not over the phone," she said. "It's being right in someone's face. Being right in front of a mom with kids and saying you'll have to leave. You've been here for six months, you've been here for a year."

As scared as Cox is of one day hearing those words herself, she's determined to find a job so she can move out of the shelter--and make room for someone else. "God will make a way for me," said Cox. "I'm gonna keep praying, doing what I have to do. I'm gonna keep looking--nothing's gonna stop me".

The shelter also hopes it can continue to count on their partnerships with several churches to help.

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