Yesterday (Feb. 16), Public Health issued an emergency Order out of concern for the health and safety of individuals living in the North End Encampment (“Tent City”, located on 12th Street between Tryon and College) and the public health threat that this situation poses for the larger community.
After receiving a complaint regarding the potential health issues at the Encampment in mid-January, Mecklenburg County Public Health Environmental Health staff have worked with the City of Charlotte, the homeless provider community and the business owners to clean up the site and assure that it is safe for residents. However, over the last two weeks, conditions have worsened significantly and a growing rodent infestation was recognized late last week. Rodents may transmit disease to humans through direct contact as well as through exposure to a rodent’s feces or urine. The current living environment of the encampment is neither safe nor healthy.
There are approximately 150 Encampment residents. Emergency shelters have made space for nearly 50 individuals already who had reported living in the Encampment, with dozens more men accessing Roof Above’s winter shelter each night. The County is working with community partners to expand existing shelter capacity through an additional shelter hotel. This shelter hotel is only for people living in the North End Encampment area. The shelter hotel will be open for 90 days, during which time, staff will work with each individual to find another housing resource. For other people interested in shelter resources, please call 211.
County staff and community partners are working on-site to help residents know their options for shelter and other resources including access to mental health and substance use services, housing navigation, and case management. Transportation, meals, laundry and security services will be provided as well. Encampment residents are not required to show ID to gain entry into these shelter accommodations or to access services. COVID testing will be provided as the individuals leave the Encampment site and COVID vaccine will be offered to all aged 65 and up.
According to the Order, Encampment residents must leave the area within 72 hours. The County is leading this process with social service providers, not law enforcement. Law enforcement would be used only for support of our social workers.
Community partners working with us on this effort include: Roof Above, The Salvation Army, Block Love Charlotte, Hearts Beat as One, Hearts for the Invisible and Just Do It Movement. If individuals are interested in helping or donating to this effort, please consider working through one of our trusted partners listed above.
There are approximately 3,052 people experiencing homelessness, whether in shelters or outside, in Mecklenburg County. This is a 50% increase over the last 6 months. There are also thousands of individuals and families living in hotels or doubled-up with friends and family.
There is currently a moratorium on evictions due to the pandemic. When the moratorium is ultimately lifted, we could see many more individuals and families fall into homelessness. The County invests $34 million in eviction prevention, affordable housing and rental subsidies, and supportive services for households in need. The County has invested $7.6 million to fund six hotels to help expand shelter options in our community.
Landlords can make a big difference in the housing and homelessness crisis by renting to people experiencing homelessness who may have barriers such as criminal records and poor credit. If you are a landlord, you can enroll in Socialserve’s HousingCLT program by visiting HousingCLTPartner.com or calling (704) 323-5540. HousingCLT is a community collaboration among rental property owners and professional property managers and homeless services agencies to provide housing opportunities for people experiencing homelessness who have significant barriers to securing safe, permanent, and affordable housing.
Mecklenburg County Public Health encourages all eligible residents ages 12 and older to get a free COVID-19 vaccination.