A Charlotte homeless shelter is making some major changes when it comes to deciding who can spend the night. This week, employees at the Salvation Army Center of Hope started training on a new plan to alleviate overcrowding and help the growing numbers of homeless families.
"How do we help more people with less resources," said Deronda Metz, director of social services for the Salvation Army Center of Hope.
She said she's been asking that question more often lately. The number of homeless families at the Center of Hope, a shelter for women, has gone up 25 percent since last year.
They now face federal budget cuts, which could mean less money to help families in need. To solve the problem, Metz is now training employees in a strategy called diversion.
Diversion is a model used by homeless shelters nationwide to end homelessness. The National Alliance to End Homelessness defines it as a strategy to prevent homelessness for people seeking shelter by helping them identify immediate alternate housing arrangements and, if necessary, connecting them with services and financial assistance to help them return to permanent housing.
They will start asking people more questions before letting them stay the night.
"‘Can your family take care of you? The shelter's overcrowded right now, we really want to reserve our beds for people who don't have those resources,’" she said.
The shelter plans to shift resources to women running from violent relationships, people from Mecklenburg County, and people who have nowhere else to go.
"In some cases, you may need to get a verification from the family member saying they no longer can care for you."
The plan could help them divert 10 families a week, making more room for families in dire need.
Metz said the diversion plan may keep them from opening up new temporary shelters this spring. She also hopes the new plan will make room for dozens of families that took part in the Room in the Inn program over the winter. The program ends Friday.