The conscience of the community typically turns to the homeless when temperatures fall below freezing, but there’s another category that is just as endangered: Households on the verge of eviction.
In many cases, these homes are headed by parents who work low-paying jobs and live paycheck to paycheck.
Crisis Assistance Ministry remains the chief source of help for such people in Mecklenburg County, offering emergency help with rent and utilities, as well as free coats. Crisis Assistance uses a combination of public funding and private donations to help households that can show they have fallen temporarily on hard times.
On Tuesday, when temperatures fell to 12 degrees, there were 70 households trying to get help from the agency, including 22 on the verge of being evicted, said Carol Hardison, head of Crisis Assistance Ministry.
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“Charlotte’s shelters are full, so where are these (households) going to go once they are evicted?” asked Hardison. “We live in a community where rents are soaring, and many people are working part time for low wages. All that just compounds the problem.”
The other 44 households that showed up Tuesday asked for emergency help with utilities.
It’s a North Carolina state law that utility companies can’t disconnect household utilities when temperatures fall below freezing, said Hardison. However, there are people in the county trying to live in homes that had the utilities turned off before the cold snap this week, Hardison said.
Temperatures in Charlotte are expected to be as low as 14 later this week, and highs will only be in the mid 30s, according to the National Weather Service.
Charlotte was colder than Juneau, Alaska, on Tuesday. The low temperature there was 19. In Charlotte, it was 12.
“Our community cannot afford one more homeless family in these temperatures,” Hardison said.
Emergency help with rent, utilities
Crisis Assistance Ministry is Mecklenburg County’s lead agency for assistance with rent and utilities. It’s located at 500 A Spratt St. Phone: 704-371-3001; press 0 for information. For details or to find out how to donate, visit crisisassistance.org.
The agency is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for financial assistance. It does not matter if you have received help this year. Each crisis is a new event and will be evaluated for the specific need, according to the agency.