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Crisis in Charlotte's Homeless Shelters

Homeless service agencies in Charlotte say the shortage of more beds in overnight shelters has become a crisis. They blame the economy and the lack of affordable housing, and they're calling on local churches to fill the need. Last night a record 127 children stayed in the Salvation Army's homeless shelter in Charlotte. Salvation Army Social Services Director Deronda Metz says women and children now overflow the Salvation Army shelter, forcing her to turn away 20 or 30 people every night. "We get calls everyday from the school system, from the hospitals, from Mecklenburg county agencies advocating that we take people in and the question is where do we send them?" says Metz. "And unfortunately the answer still is, 'We don't know.'" In December, Metz says the shelter shortage should ease slightly when about 100 local churches begin their annual rotation of housing homeless individuals during the winter through a program called Room in the Inn. Meantime, she's hoping 20 additional churches will step up to shelter women the Salvation Army is now turning away. "We didn't want to work with the churches, because it's a lot of work to coordinate," says Metz. "But after turning away 20 to 25 people a day, it really seemed like the only option. Other than just telling people I don't know where you can go - sleep in your car, you know, ride the bus, and things that are not safe for women and children." The Salvation Army's Deronda Metz can be reached at 704-348-2560 ext. 245.