Family Focus

Charlotte COVID-19 Response Fund grant provides families critical rental assistance

When the coronavirus crisis hit Charlotte, the United Way of Central Carolinas and Foundation For The Carolinas partnered to launch the COVID-19 Response Fund.

The fund supports a range of nonprofits, assisting people most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Importantly, this fund will help not just those who get sick, but also those who are economically impacted.

One of the grant recipients was Socialserve.

“Socialserve received $500,000 in COVID Response Funds in the first funding round to pay rental assistance to property providers on behalf of tenants that lost income due to COVID-19, and to assist homeless households in securing housing,” said Tara Peele, executive director of Socialserve.

Working closely with Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership, Socialserve deployed $429,000 in rental assistance to retain housing for 330 unduplicated renter households from April through June 15. They also assisted 30 homeless households in securing housing, paying $45,000 in upfront housing costs.

Socialserve was founded in 1999 with a handful of staff creating and supporting online housing location services. Over time, it became committed to Second Chance employment and internal programming even as it expanded its service offerings and coverage areas.

“The funding was necessary to assist people in retaining their housing and to assist households in exiting congregate settings during the pandemic,” Peele said.

Many of its clients experience barriers to employment, such as incarceration, addiction and/or housing crises. With intensive training and support, team members gain transferable customer service, sales and data management experience.

Their goal is to share what we’ve learned and encourage other employers to provide second-chance opportunities.

“Demands for housing placement have increased significantly during the pandemic as congregate settings are potential hot spots for spread of coronavirus, and some people that were staying with family are no longer able to do so,” Peele said.

Socialserve is a nonprofit, bilingual call center that connects people to housing and provides supportive, second-chance employment.

It also assists displaced households in finding new housing, offering waiting list opening support and gathering housing data on behalf of many organizations across the country.

“The increased collaboration among nonprofits, the city and the county will result in more efficient and effective systems to prevent and quickly end homelessness,” Peele said.

Over the next month, Crisis Assistance Ministry expects an unprecedented emergency for our neighbors who have lost their jobs or had their work hours cut amid the crushing economic downturn, and due to the financial repercussions and disasters the virus has caused people.

Crisis Assistance Ministry provides assistance and advocacy for people in financial crisis, helping them move toward self-sufficiency.

The combination of difficulties people have paying rent, mortgages and utility payments, spikes in foreclosures and evictions, asserting tenant's rights, homelessness, and a second wave of the coronavirus this winter will together be a brutal burden for tens of thousands of families to bear.

WSOC-TV has launched 9 Crisis Help. The funds collected will go directly to Crisis Assistance Ministry to help people pay essential bills.


If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte public affairs manager, at

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