CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The difficulty of finding affordable housing in Charlotte has become a stark reality for one woman recovering from addiction. Angela Smith says she's tried doing everything right to land her own apartment. But now she feels like she's being penalized for her success.
For 18 months Smith has called a small room at YWCA home. Right now, it's cluttered with boxes.
"I'm packing on faith because I don't have anywhere to go. But I'm going to have somewhere to go," Smith said.
Angela has been through it. Her life has been filled with four decades of mental illness, incarceration, abuse, and addiction.
"I never really thought I would overcome it, honestly," she said.
But there have also been plenty of victories for Smith who has worked hard to turn her life around.
She was accepted into the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services "Transitions to Community Living Initiative." TCLI is a program administered by Cardinal Innovations that helps people dealing with mental illness find a place to live.
"I have a lot of barriers to permanent housing. My criminal record being the biggest one," Smith said.
For 10 months, Angela says she worked with Cardinal to secure a place of her own. As her part-time job turned into a full-time one at "The Doves Nest," Angela says she kept Cardinal informed of her pay increases.
"With each employment change, I asked the people on my team at cardinal if this was going to change my housing. Was I still going to be eligible? And they assured me that I already had my housing slot," she said.
But then Angela says the rug was pulled out from underneath her.
"Two weeks before it was time for me to leave my current living situation at the Y, I got a call from them that I was no longer eligible because I make too much money," Smith said.
Cardinal wouldn't comment on Smith's specific situation citing HIPAA regulations, even after she offered to sign a waiver allowing them to do so.
But they offered the following statement in an email:
"The state sets the criteria for who qualifies for the TCLI program, and the DOJ settlement only covers those individuals that earn less than $2,000 per month. When we are unable to coordinate housing through the TCLI program, our teams pursue multiple additional supported housing options so that our members can receive the support they need to continue on a successful path."
After WBTV approached Cardinal for comment, they called a meeting with Angela Monday morning where she was told they suddenly found a loophole allowing her to remain eligible for assistance.
She still wants to make others aware of the issue.
"All along the way I've been told that we want you to move forward. We're going to help you, we're going to be there for you. We're going to help you be able to sustain yourself and become an independent person... However, it seems to me they don't want you to go too far," Smith said.
As Smith prepares to move from the YWCA and into her own apartment, she's in need of furniture. If you're willing to offer assistance, email reporter Sarah Blake Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.