Mecklenburg Co. extends hotel stay, support services for former Tent City residents

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 5:27 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - It’s been 88 days since over 200 people left Tent City and moved into county-provided hotels for 90 days, but now they have extra time to find permanent housing arrangements.

In February, a spokesperson from Mecklenburg County confirmed that 214 people accepted the county’s offer to stay in the hotel.

As of Tuesday, the county says eight people have left for more permanent housing, 147 people are still at the hotel, and 45 were “exited due to unsafe or illegal behaviors.” The county has extended the hotel stay until September 30.

Karen Pelletier, the county’s Director of Housing Innovation and Strategy says data showed “it takes approximately 120-180 days for a housing resource to be identified to someone leasing the unit and actually moving in.”

Pelletier also said that timeline along individual circumstances were reasons why the county extended the hotel service.

“They had additional barriers, with criminal background, active substance use, not everybody, but a good portion of the individuals do which makes housing even more difficult, which is why we have extended the hotel through September 30,” said Karen Pelletier, the county’s Director of Housing Innovation and Strategy.

Pelletier addressed the affordable housing crisis and said that’s also a challenge in finding affordable and available units.

“Finding these units is going to be difficult and is going to add and delay the ability for everyone experiencing homelessness, Pelletier said.

She’s also asking that landlords connect with Socialserve and Socialserve’s HousingCLT program which are collaborative programs between rental property owners, professional property managers, and homeless service agencies.

Several local nonprofits have partnered with the county in the meantime and are staffing hotels, giving people rides to work, and even helping people get valid state ID’s and social security cards.

“My partner in all of this is literally working at the hotel right now manning the front desk dealing with client needs and dealing with the clients directly in providing outreach and services there,” said Kenya Joseph with Hearts for the Invisible Coalition.

Hearts for the Invisible Coalition also opened a men’s home for some of the former Tent City residents and is hoping to open other homes in the future. They currently have six men staying in their facility.

With four extra months of support, both the county and nonprofits say it all comes down to collaboration and being flexible to address each individual need.

“The work that these organizations do, the work that we do at the end of the day is all critical because there’s a massive need in Charlotte, there’s a massive need nationally,” Joseph said.

Mecklenburg County issued an abatement order on February 16 giving people 72 hours to leave the property.

Mecklenburg County Public Health issued an Abatement of Imminent Hazard Order to the owners of the property housing the North End Encampment and affecting individuals who reside there (on 12th Street between Tryon and College).

County officials say the order was issued to help address immediate health risks to encampment residents due to rodent infestation on the property.

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