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Charlotte organization to convert hotel into apartments for those experiencing chronic homelessness

Hundreds of people who were forced to live in a tent encampment near uptown were later told it was rat-infested and had to leave.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Homelessness and affordable housing have been issues in the Queen City for years. Add in the pandemic, and the problem's even bigger.

Hundreds of people who were forced to live in a tent encampment near uptown were later told it was rat-infested and had to leave.

Now, help is on the way in the form of a $2 million donation that's allowing the organization Roof Above to convert a hotel into apartments for those experiencing chronic homelessness.

Although the signs of homelessness in Charlotte may not be as visible as they were during the height of the pandemic, city leaders say the problem is actually getting worse.

RELATED: Former Tent City residents must move out from county-funded hotels Thursday. Where are they going?

"It's been steadily increasing over these past months," Liz Clasen-Kelly, the CEO of Roof Above said.

Clasen-Kelly said organizations like hers are trying to get in front of it. 

"The reality is that once folks fall into homelessness its much harder to get out," Clasen-Kelly said. 

The problem is as the number of people moving to Charlotte goes up, the affordable housing options keep going down.

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"We've got a supply demand issue," Clasen-Kelly said. "And then older apartments that were naturally affordable are being flipped into luxury apartments or torn down." 

But now help is on the way, thanks to a $2 million donation from the State Employees Credit Union Foundation that's helping Roof Above turn this hotel on Clanton Road into permanent supportive housing

"Tenants will be people who are chronically homeless in our community, so folks who've been homeless a year or longer," Clasen-Kelly said. 

RELATED: $200K will be spent repairing Tent City motels after poor living conditions exposed

Clasen-Kelly said it'll serve 88 people and will charge them 30% of their income for rent. 

"So if someone has 0 income we'll work with them to get income and their rent will be 0 but if someone has for example a disability check theyll pay a 3rd of that for rent," she said.

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Clasen-Kelly said the complex will also have support services on-site, like case managers, a nurse, and mental health specialists to help keep them housed. 

"It's really an investment in humanity," she said. "It's an investment in opportunity and it's an investment in dignity." 

The project is expected to be completed in early 2022, and Clasen-Kelly believes it's a step in the right direction. 

RELATED: Clock ticking to find permanent housing for ex-Tent City residents

"It truly takes a community to commit to this issue," she said. "We believe there can be a time in our community when no one has to be homeless." 

Some of the first tenants will be some of the people who were removed from the North End encampment in February. 

Contact Lana Harris at lharris@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and on Instagram.

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