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Mecklenburg County, partnering organizations supporting former Tent City residents during housing search

It’s been seven months since over 200 people were forced to leave the homeless encampment known as Tent City.
Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 9:02 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - It’s been seven months since over 200 people were forced to leave the homeless encampment known as Tent City.

In mid-February, residents were given 72 hours to vacate the property due to health risks from a rodent infestation.

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.

The county paid for hotel services which were originally slated for 90 days but were extended to September 30.

“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, Mecklenburg County’s Director of Housing, Innovation, Strategy, and Alignment.

County officials say 215 people accepted the county’s offer to stay in hotels during this time period. As of September 17, the county is reporting the following:

• Homelessness (unsheltered) 51 individuals

• Permanent Housing: 37 individuals

• Emergency Shelter: 20 individuals

• Detention Center: 12 individuals

• Unknown: 8 individuals

• Death: 4 individuals

• Temporary Housing: 1 individual

With time expiring on September 30, Pelletier assures they are doing all they can to support people searching for housing.

“By September 30, everyone that has been identified a housing resource will still have access to a non-congregate setting which will look a little different depending on where they are and what housing program they’re connected to,” Pelletier said.

Pelletier says 10 individuals are being supported through the Criminal Justice Services program.

Six people were also offered support with the option of accepting, and regardless will still be directed to other housing solutions.

“People will continue to move to housing and then the six individuals will be exited with through either detox or to emergency shelter and that is because they have decided to at the housing option available to them is not what they want,” she said. “They have been offered either treatment through Anuvia’s detox program or information on how to access emergency shelter.”

On September 8, the Board of County Commissioners allocated $372,000 American Rescue Plan Dollars to support individuals as they move to housing. This funding will go toward the following:

  • landlord incentives: incentives for first-time inspection
  • criminal justice services including one case manager, 12 months housing subsidy, and first month’s rent
  • workforce development: job readiness and supplies
  • therapeutic support: crisis intervention, individual therapeutic intervention, employment support

Additionally, FEMA funding was extended to support 60 people currently in the housing search process.

“We have 60 or so folks that are in a housing search process. They are working with a housing provider, trying to find a landlord, they’re in the inspection process,” she said.

The total of $635,108 will go toward the following agencies:

  • Block Love Charlotte: Hotel rooms, meals, and staffing from October 1 to December 31.
  • Catholic Charities: Hotel rooms and meal stipend from September 15 to December 31.
  • Roof Above: Hotel rooms and meal stipend from September 15 to February 28.

The question then comes, what about the people in other homeless encampments?

Several non-profits including Hearts Beat as One Foundation is also working with county and other organizations in an outreach council. They’re boots on the ground providing food, hygiene, and clothing items.

“We are in communication weekly and meet every other week but we’re out in the field either delivering supplies on an as need basis,” said Hearts Beat as One Foundation Founder and Director Joe Davis.

Davis says they’re also helping with employment opportunities for over 60 people.

“We’ve actually seen some of them go to work for the city in sanitation, we have quite a few folks that are working in food production,” Davis said.

Additionally, Davis says they are providing transportation to medical appointments or work outside of CATS operational hours. Hearts Beat as One Foundation also has a weekly food pantry for walk-up and drive-thru clients.

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