Local nonprofit works to protect Charlotte’s homeless population ahead of RNC

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte will host the Republican National Convention in less than a month, but there’s concern that efforts for the city to look its best could force people living on the streets to find another place to stay.

They’re staying on property just north of uptown, near the Urban Ministry Center and a few blocks away from the convention’s main events.

Channel 9′s Erin Edwards learned there is a nonprofit trying to keep them from getting kicked out.

“If they can spend the money on bringing all these people down here, they can spend the money on these people to get them to a safer situation,” the coalition said.

The group, Hearts for the Invisible Charlotte Coalition, is worried that the area known as Tent City will be removed. They are fighting to keep the homeless community safe and they’re also calling on the county and city to come up with a long-term solution.

“When a political group comes into down, it doesn’t matter if it’s DNC or RNC, nobody wants, officials don’t want to see this in their face so it is a concern,” a local resident said.

But their concern isn’t only about the RNC coming to town. They say the current living conditions off of North Tryon are unsafe.

“Now with the temperature being so hot it’s really really unbearable,” the coalition said. “It’s creating enough dignity and inhumane conditions for these people that are suffering out there. They’re in tents that are plastic its hot.”

The coalition is now calling on the city and county to work on a solution. The group drafted a plan to present to city leaders this week.

“What this plan will suggest is temporary emergency housing, which we possibly have a solution to right now,” the coalition said.

The group says it is a win-win: the city will look better when the RNC comes to town and the people who live in Tent City will have a dignified place to stay.

The group isn’t the only one calling on the city to help, but also the community.

“The Hearts for the Invisible Charlotte Coalition challenges one million Mecklenburg County residents to donate $20. If we can get $20 from every resident, that’s $20 million dollars to put towards affordable housing in the coming days,” the coalition said.

Channel 9 reached out to the city to ask for their response to the coalition’s letter, but we’re waiting to hear back. But Councilman Braxton Winston tweeted that the city has not received a formal request to remove the camp and that he’s looking into the issue.

“The property owners at both 12th and Graham and 12th and College streets have advised the CMPD, that they will currently refrain from asking occupants that have assembled tents on their respective properties to vacate the locations,” CMPD said Monday in a news release. “CMPD has not and will not initiate any enforcement action regarding the removal assistance of homeless tent encampments on private property, unless a property owner generates a trespassing complaint.”

After so much back and forth, all of the RNC will be in Charlotte and not in Jacksonville.

President Trump canceled the Jacksonville portion last Thursday due to rising COVID-19 cases. The next day, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles tweeted the city will stick to hosting a scaled-down version of the convention with delegates only.

It won’t cost the city any more than the reduced budget approved by the Justice Department.