CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Homelessness continues to be a problem in Mecklenburg County, and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's only getting worse.
The county released its annual homelessness report Thursday, showing the dramatic impact the coronavirus has had on the community. As of June, 3,137 people were homeless in Mecklenburg County, that's up 55% from last year.
The lack of affordable housing is also a major issue in Charlotte. The report found that more than 28,000 households were behind on rent, owing an average of more than $3,500.
The report found that Black and Hispanic households were most impacted, with people of color being more likely to experience unemployment during the pandemic. As of May, 9.1% of Black workers in the U.S. were unemployed, compared to 5.1% of white workers.
As for affordable housing, it's becoming harder to find. The cost of monthly rent in Mecklenburg County increased by about $30 a year. At the same time, the minimum wage remained flat at $7.25 an hour. In fact, the report estimates that a person making minimum wage would need to work 116 hours a week just to afford a one-bedroom apartment. According to the 2021 Out of Reach Report, the fair market rate for a one-bedroom unit is $1,151.
To help low-income residents, the City of Charlotte is working on nine new affordable housing projects in west Charlotte, Ballantyne and east Charlotte. The county is also working to offer more affordable housing options, and many nonprofits are working to find permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness.
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