CHARLOTTE, N.C. — John Benjamin came to Charlotte looking for work in May and has spent a week on the streets without a home with his 5-year-old daughter, Miiyah.
He’s a single dad who says he’s transient, living in hotel rooms and camping out in fast food restaurants in the Queen City. He reached out to Spectrum News for help after reaching a wall, seeking assistance as a dad.
He says at one point, he stayed in the Greyhound bus station with his daughter.
“She knows what daddy would do for her,” Benjamin said. “If I promise her something, it’s going to happen. But it seems like lately, the promises that I make to her are aren’t being broken by me, it’s by the programs that aren’t available to me.”
He affords hotel room with vouchers from some area shelters like Crisis Assistance Ministry, but they are only valid for one night, he says. A spokesperson says, “Crisis Assistance Ministry is not a shelter. We provide emergency rent assistance to families in financial crisis in order to prevent eviction and homelessness. Occasionally, we do assist with short-term hotel accommodations, but our goal is to stabilize the housing situation for at least 30 days, not just one night. “
An April 2019 study from Mecklenburg County reports there’s a gap in resources for homeless fathers. A spokesperson for the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte confirms they are unable to shelter children. The Harvest Center of Charlotte is in the process of building transitional housing for single fathers, but they're not there yet.
Programs like the Salvation Army require at least 72 hours Charlotte residency and Benjamin says he was homeless during that wait.
“Dads with kids and have not been real good with having an immediate response,” says Deronda Metz, director of social social for the Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte’s Center of Hope.
The Center has three rooms for homeless fathers with children. Since contacting Spectrum News, Benjamin is now in contact with Metz.
If your family is experiencing homelessness and needs help, you can call 211 to start an intake process.