Salvation Army Shelter looks to expand - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Salvation Army Shelter looks to expand

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A new report from the US Council of Mayors shows homeless families are on the rise in Charlotte.  And that number is expected to rise.  The Salvation Army's Charlotte Center of Hope is concerned.  It is the only emergency women and children's shelter in Charlotte. The 250 bed facility receives about 550 families a year.

"Everyday we are turning away people in this community," Charlotte Center of Hope Director Deronda Metz said. "That need to get off the streets immediately. We're turning away more people than we are letting in the shelter."

Metz says turning mothers away is heartbreaking and she wants to find a solution.

"We don't want to say," Metz said. "Call back tomorrow. Call back the next day. It's too stressful on that mom. It's stress on our staff."

To help end rejection, there is a plan to expand the shelter.  At first administrators were going to add on to the existing building, but that would have been expensive.  The plan now is to renovate the attic.

"It's really the only space we have in the building." Metz said.

The director initially thought the attic could house 30 more beds, but an architecture reports the space would be enough for 60 beds.

"That's 25 or 30 more families," Metz said. "We can get into the building a night. When you start thinking about families not having a place to stay, one of the greatest challenges is kids don't have a place to catch the bus to go to school, and that's heartbreaking."

Soon an engineer will check out the space to see what needs to happen to expand the shelter.

"It's still a big if," Metz said.  "Is it possible. Is it feasible? Can we get it done."

Metz and residents of the shelter hope it can be done. Mothers know the importance of the shelter.

"It really is a blessing," Unidentified Shelter Resident said. "Because there are a lot of people who don't have an opportunity to stay here. And they are staying under bridges. They are staying in their cars."

"We're hoping this will be the last winter," Metz said. "That we'll be saying we don't have space."

Administrators say the way to end homelessness is to build more affordable housing, but since that is not happening fast enough, Metz believes creating more space in shelters is the next best thing.

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