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

Charlotte's Roof Above Cancels Room In The Inn Housing Program This Winter

Since March, homeless residents have camped at 12th and College streets just east of uptown.
David Boraks
Since March, homeless residents have been camping off 12th Street, near the Roof Above day center and offices.

Roof Above says its Room in the Inn seasonal housing program for homeless residents will not operate this winter because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the agency says it is taking steps to increase capacity as cold weather arrives.

Roof Above, formerly the Urban Ministry Center, is one of Charlotte's main homeless services agencies. CEO Liz Clasen-Kelly told supporters in an email Monday that Roof Above will reopen its emergency men's shelter on Statesville Avenue with new safety precautions. And it's taking other steps to increase capacity for women and families.

Clasen-Kelly said the measures will add beds while also keeping residents safe.

"Due to safety concerns, we will not offer Room in the Inn or overflow mats in our shelter this winter. However, we remain 100% committed to providing those we serve a safe place to sleep and a warm meal throughout the winter," she said.

The 130-bed Lucille Giles Center on Statesville Avenue will reopen Dec. 1 with more space between beds, new barriers and other safety measures. The shelter has been closed since July when the agency began housing homeless residents in a motel.

Roof Above also will add 28 beds at its Tryon Street shelter and continue housing men in a leased former college dormitory through next June.

Clasen-Kelly said last winter Roof Above was able to house an average of 533 men per night. This year, it has space for 621 men per night.

Room in the Inn has been an important housing option for women and families who are homeless. Clasen-Kelly said Roof Above is working with the Salvation Army to Center of Hope to expand the number of beds for women and families at a location to be announced later. That would provide an extra 100 beds, she said.

Roof Above also operates a soup kitchen and day center on its campus off North College Street. This winter, the agency will continue to limit the number of people inside but will add outdoor warming equipment for people as they wait for services.

Room in the Inn houses and feeds homeless people at churches, colleges and other sites from Dec. 1 to March 31 every year. Room in the Inn ended its 2019-20 winter season early back in March as the coronavirus began spreading.

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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.