Winter housing program for homeless ending, leaving limited options

by: Sarah Rosario Updated:

CHARLOTTE —

A program created to keep homeless people warm during the winter will come to end Monday, leaving hundreds in Charlotte without a place to stay.

Normally many people turn to shelters, but right now, area shelters are full.

Eyewitness News found out what's being done to turn the situation around.

For the past four months, it has been the routine for workers at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, in Uptown Charlotte -- setting up beds for homeless people they host every week as part of The Urban Ministry Center's Room In The Inn program.

"I try to focus on [how] we can help these people tonight. With a meal, a good bed, rest, breakfast in the morning, and a lunch to take with them" said Des Keller, coordinator of St. Peter's Room in the Inn.

For Keller it's just a small way to help. St. Peters is one of more than 130 host sites which include other churches, colleges, YMCAs and 5,000 volunteers to provide a warm, safe place for people to stay. On Monday, the program will come to an end, leaving homeless families with only two options: the Men's Shelter of Charlotte and the Salvation Army Center of Hope for women and children. The latter of which is full, with some families sleeping on the floor.

"The best thing I can think to do is go to an abandoned house and get my sleeping bag," said Freddie Morrison Jr.

Morrison Jr. says he's been homeless for 10 years, but he's hoping that will change through a jobs program through The Urban Ministry Center and The Room in the Inn. The program has been a haven for more than 14,000 people this year

"For many people they need to figure out what they're going to do, and we try our best to help them with that," said Paul Hanneman, Urban Ministries program director.

Hanneman says finding jobs and places for the homeless to stay after the program ends is a problem they face every year that won't end without help from the community. 

"We believe it is possible to end chronic homelessness in Charlotte within a couple of years if we have landlords and others to step forward so that we have places to put people," said Hanneman.

And while the program ends Monday, the Urban Ministry Center’s services are available year-round, offering showers, meals and laundry and job programs to help those without climb back into society.

The Urban Ministry Center opened Moore Place two years ago to provide permanent housing and support for people without a place to live.

Currently it houses 85 formally chronically homeless adults.