WRITTEN BY Bek Mitchell-Kidd
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Lindsay Kappius
Crisis Assistance Ministry serves as a one-stop shop for Mecklenburg County families facing poverty. The non-profit offers assistance with everything, including clothing, utility payments, and rental assistance.
It has been a challenging year and the organization has served more than 43,000 individuals of which nearly half were children. A big focus has been the prevention of eviction.
Liana Humphrey, Chief Marketing Officer, says, “Most people assume that all evictions are done legally, but there are lots of informal evictions, where landlords force tenants to leave without going through the courts. People think that individuals who are evicted don’t have jobs and are seeking government handouts; almost every person helped here has a job—many have two and some have three jobs.”
Crisis Assistance Ministry helps prevent eviction by providing emergency financial assistance to people who are either behind on their rent or already involved in the court eviction process. After the financial emergency is resolved, caseworkers continue to advocate for the individuals, providing coaching and counseling while looking for housing solutions.
“One of the most effective ways to stop homelessness is to get upstream from the problem and stop evictions before they even happen. The eviction process is so destructive for every member of the household: furnishings are lost, an eviction stains their credit report creating challenges for future rental opportunities, food is lost, children’s schooling is disrupted, and physical and mental health challenges ensue,” says Mike Davis, Crisis Assistance Ministry’s Chief Advancement Officer.
Homelessness in Charlotte is not a new problem, it has just become newly visible to more people during the COVID pandemic because many individuals concentrated into one location—in particular, “Tent City.”
In February, approximately 200 people experiencing homelessness in Tent City were moved to undisclosed motel rooms after the county health director issued a 72-hour order for everyone to vacate the area because of a rodent infestation.
Crisis Assistance Ministry partnered with the non-profit organization Roof Above to assist the Tent City residents moving into the motel by providing mattresses and bed frames, and made clothing and shoes available through the Partner Agency Shopping Service.
Currently, more than 3,000 people are experiencing homelessness in the Charlotte area, and the numbers are increasing. Crisis Assistance Ministry depends on the generosity of the community to ensure that families can stay in their homes with their utilities intact. Now more than ever, help is needed to keep families stably housed. Peachy readers can make a financial contribution, sign-up to volunteer, and learn more at crisisassistance.org.