Furniture, financial needs to help Charlotte homeless families during COVID-19

Thompson Child & Family Focus announced plans to provide temporary housing to homeless children and families identified through A Child’s Place.

A Child’s Place at Thompson works with families in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District who are disproportionately affected by generational poverty, living with at least one CMS student in eighth grade or below, who are protected by the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and are experiencing a housing crisis.

As A Child’s Place and Thompson started thinking about how to best serve these families during this uncertain time, they started shifting their approach and thinking creatively about how to provide quick relief to children and families who are dealing with a housing crisis during a global pandemic.

When staff suggested that a 10,000-square-foot, two-story cottage on Thompson’s 60-acre campus be converted into temporary housing for four of the highest-at-risk families, the leadership team at Thompson jumped into action.

The impact of Charlotte Mecklenburg School closures has been challenging enough, and now Mecklenburg County has issued a shelter-in-place order.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is highly inconvenient for many families in our community but for those experiencing homelessness – it’s an immediate crisis on top of crisis,” said Will Jones, president/CEO of Thompson. “Our 60 plus acre residential campus in Matthews has an empty residential building. We will stand in the gap with the highest needs families and get them temporarily housed asap.”

Williamson Cottage is currently unoccupied and unfurnished, but with help from the community, the cottage can quickly become a short-term housing resource for children and families who are displaced due to the COVID19 pandemic, while waiting for sustainable and stable housing.

Each family will have their own rooms and bathrooms, plus access to a full kitchen, dining area, and recreation areas.

McKinney-Vento defines homelessness as homeless shelters, transitional housing programs, pay by the week motels, living with friends/family not by choice and living in places not intended for human habitation such as cars, parks, and abandoned buildings.

Currently, ACP is serving 284 families and 748 kids, including 38 high-risk families living in pay by-the-week motels. Many people are recently unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are facing eviction.

“The need is now. Not next week – not in a month,” Jones said. “We must make it happen to ensure safety, stability and the health of families. We’re turning to the community to raise dollars to support furnishing the space. The families need us to mobilize and we’re answering the call.”

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