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'I was just having a hard time getting into a place' | Charlotte mom shares the struggle of finding safe housing as local groups seek solutions

One woman who spoke to WCNC Charlotte said she had to make tough choices for her and her children.

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Over 2,900 people are currently experiencing homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, according to county data.

While a majority of those without a home are single individuals, there are 305 families - totaling 937 people who are also among Charlotte's homeless.

“I was applying for places and couldn’t get in," said Megan, a single mother of three who asked WCNC Charlotte to only use her first name. 

"I had an eviction on my background but I paid it off -- but I was just having a hard time getting into a place," she said.

Megan works full-time and sometimes takes on two jobs. However, after a rent hike pushed her over the edge, she struggled to make ends meet.

“I couldn’t afford that," she said. "That $100 was taking away from my kids."

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Megan got behind on bills and had to make tough financial decisions. That forced the family to move into a relative’s home, where they shared a bedroom until they could find a place of their own.

“You can put on a big smile for your kids,” Megan said, “but your kids know. They know that momma is not in the right headspace.”

That’s when Megan called 2-1-1, a resource to provide information and referral services provided by the United Way of North Carolina. Megan is now going through Mecklenburg County’s Coordinated Entry System, which helps people who are currently homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Tameka Gunn is the vice president and chief operating officer at Community Link. She said they are seeing more families fall into hard times.

“If these families can have housing, then it's going to help the children with their growth,” Gunn said. “It all comes together with housing, helping them to do better in school. So, it's just been it's been overwhelming. It's also been hard for staff to find affordable housing and they are negotiating with property owners."

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Gunn's organization said 46% of people in Charlotte cannot afford safe housing.

"These are families and they need an opportunity and a chance. And they're not going to be by themselves. They're going to have someone to help guide them and provide them with the information that they need to help them," she said.

Since the beginning of 2021, nearly 1,200 people called 211 for help with housing.

The referral service was able to connect Megan with Community Link, which is helping her learn how to build her credit. Her caseworker found her affordable housing: a three-bedroom townhome her family can call home.

“My kids can’t stop smiling,” Megan said. “There was a time when they would want to be out in the streets going to different places, but now, they just want to be at home. They have something they can call their own.”

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Contact Jesse Pierre at jpierrepet@wcnc.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

WCNC Charlotte is committed to reporting on the issues facing the communities we serve. We tell the stories of people working to solve persistent social problems. We examine how problems can be solved or addressed to improve the quality of life and make a positive difference. WCNC Charlotte is seeking solutions for you. Send your tips or questions to newstips@wcnc.com.

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