A homeless nonprofit in Charlotte announced Thursday it expects to start construction soon on a new men’s shelter that will have more beds, privacy, and other services. The announcement follows a $500,000 donation made toward the project by Honeywell, which moved its headquarters to Charlotte in 2019.
The donation brought the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte and Urban Ministry Center to $2.7 million raised, more than halfway toward its $4.4 million goal. The project will replace the men’s shelter on Statesville Avenue in north Charlotte. Liz Clasen-Kelly is the CEO of the organization, which is a merger of two nonprofits, both dedicated to serving the homeless.
"Our shelters have really been designed for an old model of homelessness, and where we were really an emergency shelter, meeting people’s basic needs," Clasen-Kelly said. "Now, emergency shelter systems are places where we’re connecting folks on a path out of homelessness, the housing and employment help is really critical."
The new shelter will have 196 beds, up from the current shelter’s 180. During the winter when there is a "no turn away" policy in effect for homeless guests wanting to sleep in the organization's shelters, this location often has up to 30 more sleeping mats on the ground to accommodate overflow.
The new shelter's building will also give homeless guests more privacy. The building's design will be based on the nonprofit's North Tryon shelter, renovated in 2018. It uses a "pod" model, with walls separating every bunk bed, cubbies for personal belongings and wall outlets to charge phones. Guests will also have access to individual showers for added privacy.
Clasen-Kelly says more important than the increased bed space are the services the new building will have, including a kitchen, laundry services, and rooms for classes and case worker visits.
Harrison Ervin stayed at the Statesville Avenue shelter off and on since 2005 before finding housing in September 2019 with the help of case workers. He now volunteers at the shelter, and recognizes the benefits the new building will have for guests.
"They will be able now to live in cubicles," Ervin said. "That gives them personal space, and it does increase their dignity, and their respect for each other, because they don’t have to be in areas with someone else. They have their own personal area to be in."
The nonprofit aims to raise the final $1.7 million by applying for money from the city's Housing Trust Fund, the federal government's Home Loan Bank system, and through private donations.
The new shelter will be built behind the existing one, which will stay open during construction to avoid displacing guests. Clasen-Kelly says she expects construction to begin in April and for the new shelter to open "before the end of next winter" in 2021.