CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - When temperatures drop many are concerned with getting people who live on the street inside but there’s another big problem that many aren’t aware of here in Charlotte: The growing number of people who can’t afford their rent or heat their homes.
Shelters across charlotte are filling up trying to keep people out of the freezing cold, but one organization is helping those who are freezing inside their own homes.
“She was putting her clothes and some blankets in the dryer to heat it up in order to use it that night because she was so cold to stay warm before the night came,” said Monica Rowe, a financial stability caseworker for Crisis Assistance Ministry. She’s worked with the organization for over 20 years.
Crisis assistance ministry helps about 200 people every day with rent and utilities but since temperatures dipped below freezing they’ve seen a spike in those needing help.
“A lot of them are now just trying to get the gas heat source back on because they’ve gone without it for the summer because they didn’t need it for hot water so, it’s the deposit, reconnection fee and the bill that was left over when it was disconnected,” Rowe said.
The majority of people seeking their help are families with children.
“We are seeing that the shelters are full so folks that are just another paycheck or a crisis away from being out on the streets those are the families that we’re wanting to say come here. You don’t have to be cold, you don’t have to be out on the streets,” said Crisis Assistance Ministry worker Adam Clein.
Rowe says families are being forced to make tough choices. One family even told her they used pages from a phone book for toilet paper.
“Having to get up in the morning try to take a shower in the cold whether they have hot water or not or heat or not. And still trying to keep it all together for the holidays and this new year and still live a normal life like going to school and going to work.”
Households where the gas is turned off are compensating with electricity, using space heaters, stoves and other means for heat.
“I had one of my clients come in for help with getting the gas service turned back on because her stove went out and that stove was provided by her landlord so now she doesn’t have a stove to cook with because she was using it for heating.”
It’s important to check on friends, family and neighbors and if you or someone you know needs help. There are places like crisis assistant ministries that can offer help.
You can learn more about the Crisis Assistance Ministry and what you can do to help by clicking here.