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Charlotte's full coverage of hotel fees for seniors displaced after flooding ending Tuesday

For the last two months about 60 of them have been staying at local hotels. The city has been covering the hotel costs, but that will end on Tuesday.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On Christmas weekend, dozens of Charlotte seniors were displaced from their homes following a devastating flood at the Magnolia Senior Apartments on Beatties Ford Road in North Charlotte.

For the last two months about 60 of them have been staying at local hotels. The city has been covering the hotel costs, but that will end on Tuesday.

Nilka McDonald is trying to come to terms with losing the place she’s called home for the last 3 years.

“The whole thing is, it's umm. It's traumatizing,” she said.

Her unit and several others at the Magnolia Senior Apartments were badly damaged during the flood. Her lease was eventually terminated, and she has since been living at the Residence Inn like many of her former neighbors.

“I lost things....it wasn't even the money wise. It was sentimental value from what my father who died, from my sisters," said McDonald. "They left me those things, and those things are gone.”

Starting March 1st those who plan to stay at the hotels will need to start paying out of their own pocket. They will be in charge of paying what their monthly rent was at Magnolia. Any leftover costs will be covered by the city.

Carol Hardison is the CEO of Crisis Assistance Ministry.

“They will contribute the amount that they have paid towards their rent, it won't cover the full amount. So, the city and the community, were still out there looking for funding to keep them housed,” said Hardison.

Its relief efforts include Housing Collaborative, Champion House of Care, and Mecklenburg County. 

Hardison said they found housing for about 10 seniors but adds it’s been challenging.

“I'll first say the challenges are 62, vulnerable senior citizens living in their one-bedroom hotel, without a lot of support, it's been very stressful. And it's traumatic for them but the community has continued to rally," said Hardison. "The challenges in finding housing are what you would expect... housing is very expensive compared to their incomes. It does shine a light on the affordable housing issue, especially those who are low-income.”

She adds it’s also important to keep the seniors close to what they know and are familiar with.

“If you think about it, it is people who were all located in north Charlotte in this apartment complex. So you want people to try to stay as close as possible to their home, it doesn't mean they couldn't move somewhere 5 or 10 miles away," said Hardison. "So one of the issues is finding affordable housing in a geographic region.”

McDonald said some of the seniors are relieved to be able to stay at the hotel but said there is still a lot of uncertainty about finding permanent housing. So next month she has decided to move in with her family.

“I'm honestly going to my daughter's house, I’m more comfortable with doing that than stressing myself out.”

She is thankful for the generosity and hospitality of the hotel staff.

“I am grateful for the hotel and the staff. They have been awesome," said McDonald. "These people have treated us really well."

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