CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The affordable housing crisis means some working families are having trouble affording a home. Charlotte’s Housing and Homelessness data shows last year, more than 123,000 households paid more than 30 percent of their income towards housing.
Additionally, the data showed a person earning minimum wage would have to work 116 hours a week just to afford the average 1-bedroom apartment in the Queen City.
"I can almost guarantee you that if you went to Panera Bread or any fast food place," said Pedro Perez, Executive Director at Charlotte Family Housing, "Somebody in that job or in that organization will be homeless. The affordable housing crisis in the city and in this country is amazingly terrible."
Charlotte Family Housing is a non-profit serving working families experiencing homeless. The organization has a program that helps families get back on their feet. In addition to offering shelter and housing, it provides counseling, budgeting classes, and other resources to help families.
“We immediately connect them to certified, licensed clinical social workers," said Perez, "Who will begin to help them create a goal for themselves, and deal with the trauma that they've experienced both in terms of poverty and homelessness.”
Since 2018, Charlotte Family Housing has helped 57 families move from homelessness to homeownership, including a 27-year-old woman named Jay, who asked us not to use her last name.
Three years ago, Jay's life was in shambles after being in an abusive relationship and experiencing homelessness with her son, who was six years old at the time.
"I was sleeping in my car, I would be living on my friend’s couches and stuff like that," said Jay, "On top of that, I had just had an accident from the abusive relationship and I couldn’t see out of my left eye.”
The lowest point in Jay’s life became a launching pad when her son’s school counselor connected her to Charlotte Family Housing.
She was provided childcare, therapy, and even attended a budgeting class. Jay spent two months in a shelter before moving into her own. Last year, she bought a home.
"Charlotte family housing gave me a light when I felt like I had no way out of my situation," said Jay, "I know people like me, sometimes they don’t have close families. They don’t have anybody.”
Jay's life is now much different. She has her own roof over her head and started a home décor and candle-making business called Comfort Creations by Jay.
She hopes her story will bring hope to others experiencing homelessness right now.
To learn more about Charlotte Family Housing or to donate, visit their website.