Leaders say homeless will be helped not hidden during DNC



CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The homeless in Charlotte will be helped, not hidden, during the Democratic National Convention next week.

That is the message from leaders who spent the last few weeks working out plans to accommodate the homeless during the DNC.

Eyewitness News spoke with Dale Mullennix, the executive director of the Urban Ministry. 

Anchor Tenikka Smith asked Mullennix about rumors that homeless people would be bused or taken to locations outside of uptown Charlotte.

“There is no plan to put them on buses and send them somewhere else.  There’s no plan to buy them movie tickets, museum tickets, or ball game tickets or anything to hide the homeless,” Mullennix said.

Mullennix said for more than a month, he and other partners of the Mecklenburg Homeless Services Network have worked to make sure the homeless are accommodated and informed during the convention.

Uptown Charlotte, where the bulk of convention activity is focused, is also where Robert Munn and others spend their days and nights out on the street.  Munn told Eyewitness News he's concerned that homeless people could be harassed.

 “There is a concern about those individuals carrying backpacks,” Munn said.

Mullennix said agencies that help the homeless are working to make sure they are educated about security measures and restrictions in uptown.  They are also being informed about transportation changes. 

By far, the biggest effort has been making sure they will have a place to stay and access to the services they need. 

Mullennix said they received donations to help maintain or provide housing for individuals as well as families with children.  They also have a plan in place to make sure those children will be able to catch a bus and get to school.  Several shelters will expand hours and staff.

 “It’s nothing that delegates haven’t seen in their own states in their own cities, so it’s just how you manage it and control it at this particular time,” Munn said.

“This is a unique situation that’s going to last for a few days and were going to make a unique response to it, but every single day we're working to help people escape homelessness,” Mullennix said.

So far several agencies and companies have donated around $20,000 toward the efforts to help the homeless during the DNC.