Homeless population steadily increasing in Charlotte-Mecklenburg area

“It’s not unexpected to see this trend considering everything that’s been happening,” one local expert said.
The county just released numbers and non-profits back them up by telling us the situation is worse than what was believed.
Published: Sep. 2, 2022 at 2:52 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The homeless population in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County is steadily increasing month-over-month according to new data released by the county.

“The problem is much bigger than most people realize,” Laura Gorecki, the Chief Dignity Officer of Project Outpour, said.

Data from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing and Homelessness dashboard shows the homeless population increased by 239 people.

“Definitely are seeing new faces pretty consistently, and we’re also seeing people who have been experiencing homelessness for a period of time but haven’t been seeking services,” said Gorecki.

The county said the homeless population is increasing month-over-month, with the total standing at 2,666 people countywide.

“It’s probably at least double what the numbers say,” Gorecki said.

The economy and housing prices are contributing to the steady increase in homelessness.

“It’s not unexpected to see this trend considering everything that’s been happening,” Kenya Joseph, the Vice President of Hearts for the Invisible Coalition, said. “I think it’s clearly reflective of everything that’s going on in our world, right. We have inflation, we have higher gas prices, layoffs have started, people lost their jobs during COVID and were not able to find stable employment after that.”

Nonprofits say it’s harder to count the number of people experiencing homelessness in the county for several factors.

“Outside of that county number, there are whole scores of people who are homeless and living in their car, those aren’t captured there, there are people who are homeless in that they don’t have a primary rental or purchased property,” Joseph said.

The elimination of tent city and visible encampment throughout the county plays a factor too.

Some people are sleeping in cars, staying with other people, or living deep in the woods out of fear of being displaced.

“A big part of homelessness is the of course the unaffordability of housing, and housing just being unavailable, the lack of affordable housing,” Joseph said.

The latest data shows Charlotte-Mecklenburg lacks 45,130 units for extremely low-income renters. Nonprofits tell WBTV real affordable rent prices are needed too.

“We need affordable housing units that are $800 - $700, that’s what’s really needed,” Joseph said.

Both groups tell WBTV they’re encountering people that have jobs but can’t afford to pay rent in the area.

“It’s a very difficult problem to solve and it does take a lot of collaboration, a lot of agencies working together,” Gorecki said.

That includes landlords, developers and nonprofits working together to develop more affordable housing, and more landlords agreeing to accept housing vouchers.

Related: Homeless Charlottean sleeps in crawl space as affordable housing crisis worsens