Viewpoint

We want to help the homeless and help North Tryon Street

Mark Middlesworth, president of North End Partners, says the group wants to help the homeleess as well as boost property values.
Mark Middlesworth, president of North End Partners, says the group wants to help the homeleess as well as boost property values. mhames@charlotteobserver.com

From Mark Middlesworth, president of North End Partners, a nonprofit group created to promote the revitalization of North Tryon Street, in response to “On North Tryon, a question about our values” (Feb. 17 For the Record):

Rev. Bob Henderson questioned my values, saying that the land tycoons in the North End are only interested in profiting off of the Blue Line.

Sad he didn’t research the genuine causes that a totally volunteer organization called North End Partners champions. Who wouldn’t want their property value to at least improve, but that is not what this battle is all about, as much as he and the media would like to profess. It is about doing the right thing for everyone. Is it too much to ask to come to work without people sleeping behind your building, street people coming through your door demanding money, not having to clean up human feces off of your sidewalk?

North End Partners’ goal is to eliminate homelessness. Our current system is not working.

Sure, there are a few success stories. What about the thousand other homeless people living in the woods or under a bridge? How is Charlotte helping them?

The problem we see with the Men’s Shelter and the Urban Ministry being on North Tryon is that there isn’t enough room to provide the services necessary to give the homeless the respect and dignity they deserve. Warehousing people is not fixing people. They intend to waste $7 million putting lipstick on a pig when that money could go toward a new modern facility. Listen to what the homeless feel they need. We did, and we recorded it and I recommend you watch it on the North End Partners Facebook page.

North End Partners studied how other cities successfully treat their homeless. The Haven For Hope in San Antonio is the model for the entire United States.

That organization created a campus with all services in one location providing daytime programs to help people get back into the working world.

In Charlotte, at 7 a.m. each day it’s simply “we don’t care where you go but you can’t stay here.” Haven For Hope has on-site medical and dental clinics saving taxpayers millions per year in emergency room visits. It has legal services handling minor offenses and reducing the burden on overcrowded courts. It has different dormitories for the different levels of homelessness.

HFH understands that some people just don’t want to be indoors, so it is legal to sleep under a tree. HFH has personal lockers, showers and provides jobs for over 50 homeless people on its campus.

How can Charlotte not afford to make this a priority? Charlotte built a $100 million coliseum and 12 years later tore it down. We are smart enough and can make this happen if enough citizens demand it. HFH has more than 100 corporate partners that finance their operations. Is Charlotte not better than San Antonio?

Our politicians and city leaders are dead silent about this issue in hopes that we will tire out and go away. Not happening.

We will get louder until Charlotte does what’s right. HFH told me I was fighting an uphill battle because too many non-profits are more concerned about protecting their pocketbooks rather than helping the homeless.

We’re all in this together. One person’s burden is everyone’s burden.

  Comments