Advertisement

Community leaders lament lack of transportation for homeless to shelters during winter storm

Before a solution was reached, the situation was reminiscent of the Tent City crisis a year ago when egos got in the way of transporting people in need from a dangerous situation.
About 45 homeless Charlotte residents were left waiting for hours for a ride to a shelter according to numerous community groups and county leaders.
Published: Jan. 16, 2022 at 9:29 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 16, 2022 at 11:47 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - About 45 homeless Charlotte residents were left waiting for hours for a ride to a shelter according to numerous community groups and county leaders.

Before a solution was reached, the situation was reminiscent of the Tent City crisis a year ago when egos got in the way of transporting people in need from a dangerous situation.

Deborah Phillips with Block Love Charlotte told WBTV she had been coordinating with other community leaders such as Garcia Nelson after a group of homeless residents started gathering near “The Wall” on North Tryon Street.

Phillips said she was frustrated that many of them were not told about the plan to get them to shelters. She said Roof Above had contacted some of the homeless residents about the shelters but not enough.

“We could have done this before the storm hit,” Phillips said.

“Why wait until today as we’re still in the midst of it cause it’s snowing on us now to try and house people because it’s not fair. Today, what we saw is heartbreaking and heart-wrenching.”

As Phillips and others described, a group of 20 homeless people started gathering on North Tryon Street hoping to get to a shelter. Eventually, that number more than doubled.

Around 1 p.m., Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management announced “CATS will provide free service on routes that serve these locations.”

But Phillips said that information didn’t trickle to everyone who needed it.

Phillips said the situation was reminiscent of the crisis at Tent City when her group ended up renting vans to transport people as local government officials feuded over how to get it done.

“It reminded me of that and it’s heartbreaking it’s inhumane it’s not right at the end of the day.

Phillips, Nelson and Willis “Big Red” Draughn with BUB Great were working on solutions with County Commissioners Mark Jerrell and Pat Cotham as the hours passed.

Eventually, they worked out a plan for a CATS bus to transport homeless residents to a shelter. But even after that Nelson said that they had to find other accommodations because of a lack of space at the publicized shelters.

Draughn said this is an example of why smaller non-profits should also receive support and funding from the county.

“Things are going to have to change because those that are really from here and putting in the work, we have to talk about it,” Draughn said.

“We’re tired of being used, we don’t mind being utilized.”

WBTV reached out to Mecklenburg County to ask questions about the plans for transporting homeless residents to shelters but no response was provided by publication of this story.

Copyright 2022 WBTV. All rights reserved.