Winter may soon get easier for 100 homeless families with children.

Beginning in early January, the Charlotte Housing Authority will open up its 12-story Hall House in uptown Charlotte as a six-month respite for families now living on the streets, in shelters or low-rent motels.

The agency is working with A Child’s Place and the Salvation Army to identify families most in need. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools also is involved.

The Foundation For The Carolinas on Monday approved $159,560 from its Critical Needs Response Fund to cover the costs.

Launched Dec. 2 with a $1 million donation from Saundra and Leon Levine, the fund is meant to help Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents in dire needs because of the foundering economy. More than 500 people have since donated. The fund now holds more than $1.6 million.

“We are thrilled,” Annabelle Suddreth, executive director of A Child’s Place, said in a news release. “This means the children in 100 local families who are currently living in homeless shelters, pay-by-week motels, doubled-up with others and living in cars will move out of crisis and grab a lifeline toward safety and stability.”

Hall House became available after a deal to sell it fell through, said housing authority spokeswoman Jennifer Gallman. The building sits on prime Tryon Street property near glistening office towers.

Use of the building to house the homeless marks an ironic twist for a section of uptown that was largely cleared of low-income families in the name of urban renewal.

Gallman emphasized, however, that the move is temporary. All families must vacate by the end of June.

“The housing authority is committed to selling the building,” Gallman said. “It’s a temporary thing, but it’s better than sleeping in a car or some of these pay-by-the-week places that are not good environments to raise children in.”

Gallman said several local businesses donated mattresses and paint, and volunteers have worked to spruce up Hall House. Families will move in 20 at a time, beginnng next month.

Children will be allowed to attend their current schools, and the housing authority is working with local nonprofits to find permanent housing for the families once their six-month stay has ended, Gallman said.

“They will not be put on the street again,” she said.

In total, the Critical Needs Response Fund’s board on Monday approved $362,516 in grants to Mecklenburg County nonprofits. The grants were:

  • $21,456 to Love Inc. to provide funding for heaters, home repairs and weatherization projects.
  • $24,500 to Samaritan House to provide an additional 275 bed days (approximately 18 to 20 guests, depending on their length of stay).
  • $27,000 to the Emergency Winter Shelter to cover the costs of extra staff, food, laundry and utilities as a result of housing increased numbers of homeless men.
  • $20,000 to Catholic Social Services for food pantry supplies and rent/utility assistance.
  • $50,000 to the Uptown Shelter to provide for a nightly capacity increase of 285, thus providing up to 3,600 additional bed nights serving 47 extra men per night.
  • $60,000 to the Salvation Army to provide services for an additional 250 women.
  • $159,560 to A Child’s Place/Hall House to provide the gap funding needed to open the facility.

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