A Charlotte emergency shelter for homeless women set to close in March will remain open the rest of 2013, due largely to cost cutting, organizers say.
News that the Salvation Army will maintain the Caldwell House shelter through Dec. 30 came on one of the coldest days of winter, with lows expected in the mid 20s Tuesday night. Agency officials speculate the temporary 50-bed shelter on East Fifth Street would be at capacity Tuesday night, due in part to the cold snap.
The shelter, based at Caldwell Memorial Presbyterian Church, opened in August 2010 to take overflow from the Salvation Army Center of Hope shelter for women and children.
It has since hosted 720 single women, said Deronda Metz, director of the Center of Hope.
The Salvation Army recently had trimmed the number of women housed at Caldwell House to 25, in anticipation of its closing. However, the numbers there will be restored, allowing the Center of Hope to make room for more homeless women, Metz said.
Currently, the 224-bed Center of Hope is helping 365 women and children, including nearly 40 families sleeping on the floors of the TV room and dining room. About 50 women are being taken from the center each night to Victory Christian Center, which provides them shelter at its own expense, Metz said.
Overcrowding has forced the Center of Hope to refer up to 10 women a day to the Urban Ministry Centers Room in the Inn, a winter program that houses the homeless at area churches.
Meanwhile, the Mens Shelter of Charlotte is taking about 500 men a night, a number that is expected to increase as the cold temperatures worsen.
Metz said the money to keep Caldwell House open came largely through savings. The Salvation Army budgeted $19,000 a month to run the site, but costs came in closer to $13,000, she said.
We didnt want to raise new money to keep it open, but we didnt have to, said Metz. We had a lot of costs that ended up being covered by partnerships and volunteers that took on responsibilities for things like maintenance and travel expenses.
Those partners include Caldwell Memorial Presbyterian Church, which is supplying the space on its campus in the Elizabeth neighborhood. The church also provides volunteers who are working with the Salvation Army in classes that help women find jobs and leave homelessness.
The Rev. John Cleghorn of Caldwell Memorial said other churches have also joined in, as well as restaurants like Nothing but Noodles, which supplies food at no charge for the women on Sundays.
When this opened, it was purely emergency shelter, but it has grown into a wrap-around ministry for the church, said Cleghorn.
The women have become a meaningful part of the congregation and that has given us an opportunity to get involved in what they face being homeless.
Programs offered at Caldwell House have proven to be a success, Metz said, noting that records show the majority of the women who stayed there have ended up finding their way back into housing.
That has become a key component of the Center of Hopes approach to dealing with homeless women, including a Rapid Rehousing program that aims to empty shelters as quickly as possible. The latter offers homeless women short-term rent subsidies for apartments while they look for higher paying jobs.
The Center of Hope has housed about 65 families (165 people) since the Rapid Rehousing program began in April 2012, and all but one family has been able to afford paying the rent after the subsidy ended, Metz said.
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