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Charlotte Area

Church To Provide Emergency Shelter For Homeless Women

http://66.225.205.104/JR20100908.mp3

A new emergency shelter for homeless women and children is set to open in the coming week at a church in Charlotte's Elizabeth neighborhood. WFAE's Julie Rose reports the community has had a particular shortage of shelter space for women this summer. There is only one permanent homeless shelter for women and children in Charlotte. It's run by the Salvation Army and has space for about 280 people if you count mattresses lined up in hallways and offices. During the winter, a collection of churches house the shelter's overflow crowd one week at a time in a program called "Room in the Inn." But the number of women and children without a place to sleep has swelled to more than 3,000 in Charlotte. So this summer, the Salvation Army's Deronda Metz arranged for a handful of churches to keep up their weekly rotation. And yet, she's still turning people away each night. "Even with working with those churches and sleeping people on the dining room floor every night, we still couldn't meet those needs," laments Metz. "So Caldwell Presbyterian Church stepping forward to do the 50 beds is really a big deal." This week volunteers are painting and prepping space inside Caldwell Presbyterian Church to serve as an emergency overflow shelter through November. Metz estimates it will cost $77,500 to pay staff and provide food at the emergency shelter for the next three months. After that, she's hopeful the regular "Room in the Inn" program of rotating churches will be sufficient to keep homeless women and children sheltered through the winter. By contrast, there have been fewer homeless men turned away from Charlotte shelters this summer because the emergency winter shelter that was previously only open during cold months is now open year-round, effectively doubling the number of beds available to homeless men.