QCity Metro file photo

Construction is set to start on a new men’s shelter north of uptown Charlotte after the Howard R. Levine Foundation gave $1 million to support the project.

The Men’s Shelter of Charlotte/Urban Ministry Center broke ground on the new facility earlier this week.

In recognition of the gift, the shelter will be named in honor of Levine, son of Leon Levine, founder of the Family Dollar retail chain. The $4.4 million project is slated for completion in early 2021.

Why it matters: More than 3,000 people in Mecklenburg County are reported to be homeless, according to current data. Increasingly, some of Charlotte’s homeless residents are living in tents clustered in vacant lots and along the edge of wooded areas.

The new shelter will replace the existing facility at 3410 Statesville Avenue.

“Many of those served by the shelter are working in jobs making $8 or $9 [an] hour, and there simply are not affordable places for them to live in our community,” Howard Levine said in a statement released Wednesday.

Not just beds: The new facility will do more than provide emergency shelter. With a kitchen, laundry services, a group room for classes and a mobile computer lab, it also will provide assistance to residents seeking on-site case management and employment services.

The new shelter will be built behind the current building, which was built and used for years as a warehouse. When converted to an emergency shelter for homeless men in 2005, it was “designed to meet only the most basic needs – a place for men to stay warm, dry and clean,” shelter officials said in a statement. The new facility will provide the shelter’s guests with more privacy, with most beds in sleeping pods.

Other major funders include Honeywell International Inc., Springsteen Family Foundation and the Lucille P. & Edward C. Giles Foundation. The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency is providing a $500,000 loan, and Charlotte City Council recently approved a $800,000 grant from the city’s Housing Trust Fund.

The bottom line: The current shelter recently reduced capacity from 180 beds to 132 beds to achieve social distancing and combat the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19). Officials have not determined how many beds the new facility will have.

“This pandemic has shown the importance of home and the ability to have a space where you can live safely and comfortably. Our intention with this upgraded shelter is to help men find safety, stability and tools to quickly move home,” said Liz Clasen-Kelly, CEO of Men’s Shelter of Charlotte/Urban Ministry Center.

Founder and publisher of Qcitymetro, Glenn has worked at newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and The Charlotte Observer.

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