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Crowded family shelter seeks donations of new sheets, blankets

Julene Robinson, resident advisor at the Salvation Army Center of Hope, washing sheets, blankets, pillows and towels, Friday morning, October 02, 2015. The agency is in desperate need of people to donate linens due to over crowding.
Julene Robinson, resident advisor at the Salvation Army Center of Hope, washing sheets, blankets, pillows and towels, Friday morning, October 02, 2015. The agency is in desperate need of people to donate linens due to over crowding. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

A January homeless survey that showed an increase in homeless women and children at Charlotte’s largest family shelter was apparently no fluke.

Numbers at the Salvation Army Center of Hope are still rising, prompting the shelter to put out an urgent call for donated new twin sheets and blankets.

The shelter has beds enough for 340 people, thanks to a 64-bed expansion completed in July. However, it is currently housing 418, including 225 children. The overflow people are sleeping on cots or the floor in areas like the dining room.

Deronda Metz, director of the shelter, said the increase comes at a time when the shelter is moving record numbers of families out of homelessness and into housing programs. Such programs help homeless women qualify for housing subsidies and other benefits while they are in school or getting job training. Metz says 16 families, or about 70 people, recently moved out of the shelter thanks to such programs.

“We’ve stepped up our efforts to get people out, but that means we can also let more in,” she said. “Even I’m surprised at the numbers, though, particularly the number of families – women with children – checking in.”

Local experts remain unsure what is behind the uptick among homeless women and children, considering the overall homeless population is going down. A report on the 2015 homeless count showed 1 percent drop in overall homelessness and cited 29 percent drop since 2010.

Meanwhile, the number of people counted at the Center of Hope grew year to year, with 401 people this year compared with 337 in 2014.

Should the numbers persist, the overflow can be directed to the Urban Ministry Center’s Room in the Inn, which places the homeless one night at a time in area churches, YMCAs and college dorms. It starts Dec. 1.

How to help

Donations of new twin sheets and blankets can be dropped off at the Salvation Army Center of Hope front desk anytime. The center is also in need of new children’s car seats for expectant mothers or mothers with young children. They must be new for safety reasons.

The Salvation Army Center of Hope is located at 534 Spratt Street (near the intersection of Statesville Avenue and Graham Street) on the west side of uptown. Details: (704) 348‐2560.

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