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Homeless shelters prepare for 'extreme' cold Christmas weekend in Charlotte

Bryan Mills

Mecklenburg County, Charlotte and partner agencies are preparing to open additional space in homeless shelters this week because of "extreme" cold that will drop into the teens and stay below or near freezing Christmas weekend.

The National Weather Service predicts temperatures in Charlotte will drop to 13 degrees overnight Friday. On Christmas Eve, Saturday — when the Carolina Panthers are set to play the Detroit Lions at Bank of America Stadium — temperatures will only climb to a high of 30.

On Sunday, which is Christmas, the forecast calls for lows of 16 degrees and a high of 35 degrees, before temperatures drop to 19 degrees again overnight.

There's no precipitation this weekend in the forecast. But with three nights of temperatures in the teens, Mecklenburg County and other service providers are making a concerted effort to reach unsheltered homeless people, those living in tents or other exposed conditions, to inform and convince them to take advantage of shelters.

"Street outreach will visit homeless encampments to encourage anyone living unsheltered to visit a shelter and to provide information on how to access shelter," county officials said in a statement. The outreach effort will take place on Thursday. "Individuals declining shelter will be provided blankets and/or sleeping bags, if needed."

Homeless shelters offering additional capacity this weekend include:

  • Roof Above, for men, at 1210 N. Tryon Street.
  • Salvation Army, for women and families, at 534 Spratt Street.
  • Roof Above’s Day Services Center, with restrooms and heaters, will remain open until 4 p.m. each day Friday, Saturday and Christmas.

People can get more information about homeless services by calling 211. Bus routes 11, 21, 22 and 26 will provide free transportation to shelters for those who need it.
An estimated 3,260 people are experiencing homelessness in Mecklenburg County, though not all of them are living in unsheltered conditions.

Ely Portillo has worked as a journalist in Charlotte for over a decade. Before joining WFAE, he worked at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and the Charlotte Observer.