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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Urban Ministry Turns Old Dorm Into Shelter For Working Homeless Men

A room in the new working men's shelter.
Urban Ministry Center
A room in the new working men's shelter.

The Urban Ministry Center and Men's Shelter of Charlotte are opening a temporary shelter for homeless working men this week in a vacant dormitory. 

The new shelter will operate through the end of the year to house up to 70 men who have jobs or expect to find jobs soon.  In addition to rooms, the shelter will provide what officials call "wrap around" employment and housing support. 

The move comes at a time when the number of people without permanent homes in Charlotte is increasing amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

"In the past, we have opened our doors wider, putting cots down in dining rooms and mattresses in lobbies to serve more people.  We know those options are no longer available to us in our new socially-distanced world, so we have pondered how we can grow our capacity without crowding," Urban Ministry CEO Liz Clasen-Kelly said in a note to supporters over the weekend. 

The Urban Ministry Center says the extra shelter beds will free up space in other shelters for people who are currently sleeping outside. 

The new shelter will have 64 rooms, most of them singles, with shared hall kitchens and baths.  Residents are moving into their rooms in waves over the next couple of weeks from other temporary housing situations. 

"The whole idea is that the men who come here are moving here with a growth mindset, with a moving forward, no turning back, in it to win it, you are with us, and you are not looking back," the Urban Ministry's Director of Income Services Joe Hamby said in a video prepared by the organization.

The shelter’s location is not being disclosed.

Private donors provided the financial support for the conversion.  Businesses and community groups have contributed furnishings, appliances and other needs, the Urban Ministry said. The organization is lining up volunteers to make lunches for residents daily.  

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.