In response to Charlotte’s aching affordable housing market, the Harvest Center of Charlotte and Jackson Park Ministries recently announced a merger that will provide relief to more than 20 families in need of transitional housing. It’s the latest example of how faith-based institutions are helping to ease the city’s affordable housing crisis.
According to a news release, The Harvest Center acquired roughly seven acres of Jackson Park Ministries’ buildings and land located at 5415 Airport Drive in west Charlotte. Sherry Waters, development director at The Harvest Center, said the nonprofit had been talking for years about expanding its Transformation Program, which provides housing for people affected by homelessness.
“Jackson Park’s leadership reached out to us earlier this year and wanted some consulting on how to revive this program. After talks, their board decided to gift [the property] to us,” Waters explained. “With the five scattered houses we currently have, we were only able to take 29 people at a time. Now we’re able to help many more.”
Additional support, including a $1 million private gift and donations from community partners, allowed The Harvest Center to immediately begin renovating apartment quads at its new location. Four families moved into remodeled apartments just before Christmas.
Colin Pinkney, The Harvest Center’s executive director, said the goal is to complete monthly renovations of the remaining eight apartments. At a community tour of the repaired apartments, Pinkney shared that renovation costs totaled approximately $90,000 for things like air conditioning units and water heating systems.
Amber Miller received keys to one of the redesigned spaces. She was referred to The Harvest Center from Dove’s Nest, the women’s addiction recovery program at Charlotte Rescue Mission.
“It’s finally a new start for my family. I’ve been fighting really hard and I’m just so grateful,” she said while wiping away tears. Miller moved into her brand-new apartment with her 6-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter.
Through a version of The Harvest Center’s Transformation Program, families can live on the property at no cost for up to two years. During that time, residents undergo mental health counseling, job-readiness training, spiritual mentoring, financial literacy education and other services to help them get back on their feet.
“There are more people who are living in fragile economic situations in Charlotte. They have a hard time affording rent and keeping up with all the costs to sustain a household, whether it’s food, health care, child care and – of course – housing. Our Transformation Program model is a solution that addresses all of these issues for individuals and families,” Pinkney said.
The Harvest Center at Jackson Park will also operate its popular food ministry, Isabella’s Kitchen, where residents can enjoy daily free meals. The nonprofit is looking for volunteers to staff the cafeteria seven days a week serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. For more information about volunteering, visit theharvestcenter.org/volunteer.
Katrina Louis is managing editor of qcitymetro.com who can always find something to do in Charlotte. She’s an offline hustler (and has the shirt to prove it) but when online, find her on Instagram and Twitter.