CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Days before Christmas, the lines are long at the Crisis Assistance Ministry. Many people go there to get help to pay their bills, find housing and learn how to be self-sufficient. Carol Hardison is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). She says she has never seen things this complex.
"The challenges in the health arena are incredible right now," Hardison said. "Mental health access is a challenge."
The question now is how can Charlotte experience growth with its economy and see the unemployment rate improve and at the same time there are many people still in lack.
"There is low unemployment, but that job maybe and is most likely a part time job," Hardison said. "They do not get benefits. They do not get more hours when they want more hours."
The CEO says a task force has been set up to address poverty in Charlotte. Soon that group will give more specifics on how life for those who struggle can improve. Crisis Assistance Ministry was formed about 40 years ago and the plan was for the agency to fade away.
"Our hope is not only these lines decrease, our hope is for our community that doesn't need a crisis assistance ministry one day," Hardison said.
While many wait for the Crisis Assistance Ministry to one day go away, the minds of Charlotte are coming together.
"I have been really encouraged with our elected officials, with the folks in the public sector, our private sector leaders, our faith leaders," Hardison said. "They are coming together to address poverty in a way that I have never seen before."
About 75 percent of the people who rely on Crisis Assistance Ministry work but still struggle to make ends meet. Some people say with Charlotte growing, their rent is growing to an amount they can no longer afford.
Hardison believes there is a light at the end of the tunnel and things will get better. She says this problem didn't happen overnight and won't go away overnight. She say first things first is a candid conversation that needs to happen.
"We found ourselves in a situation we are too often patching short term solutions," the CEO said. "Now we need to look at the systemic solutions issues. We need to look at race. We need to look at social capital. We need to look at the system that caused these problems...This is a time of hope and concern."