A new home and hope for the homeless

A new home and hope for the homeless

Duke Energy grant will help Roof Above expand supportive housing in Charlotte

Roof Above wants to expand its program that gives people who have been homeless for over a year more than just a place to live. The nonprofit’s Moore Place in Charlotte, N.C., gives people hope and stability.

It’s called supportive housing and here’s how it works: Moore Place has 120 apartments and gives residents a place to live and services such as social workers, nurses, a psychiatrist and activities like cooking and yoga classes. Residents pay part of their income as rent.

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Moore Place resident Veronica Mathis, left, and Roof Above CEO Liz Clasen-Kelly at Moore Place.

Duke Energy gave $500,000 to help Roof Above with its plan to replicate the success of Moore Place. The company sees the grant as an incentive for other companies to donate.

More than 3,000 people were homeless in Mecklenburg County as of June 30, including 309 households with children. About 545 people were homeless for more than a year, chronically homeless, in other words. Nationwide, there are more than 550,000 homeless people.

“Most people who experience homelessness will be reconnected to housing within a few months,” said Roof Above CEO Liz Clasen-Kelly. “Around 10 to 15 percent of those who experience homelessness get stuck in homelessness long term, often due to disabling conditions.”

A University of North Carolina at Charlotte study found that Moore Place dramatically reduced clients’ emergency room visits, days in the hospital and arrests. That means they have a more stable life that places less of a burden on taxpayers for services.

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During the pandemic, a tent city of homeless people sprouted near uptown Charlotte.

Duke Energy decided to support the program after talking with Charlotte leaders about what is needed in the community. The company donates more than $30 million a year in its seven-state service area, mostly for affordable housing, workforce development and early childhood education to help create equal access to opportunities.

This year, the company is focusing on COVID-19 relief and social justice initiatives. Since the pandemic started, more people are living on the streets. About 150 tents recently sprouted in the shadows of uptown Charlotte’s high-rises.

“We want to be part of solutions,” said Duke Energy North Carolina President Stephen De May, “to help create equal access opportunities.”

The company hopes the grant will spur other organizations to support Roof Above’s initiative.

“We know permanent housing with on-site supportive services can end chronic homelessness,” Clasen-Kelly said. “This gift will not only will help our most vulnerable citizens but also benefit our larger community.”

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