The city of Charlotte won’t be removing benches from uptown to try to address homelessness… at least not for now. The the group that came up with the idea withdrew its request to the city.
The city’s homelessness task force asked Charlotte Department of Transportation this month to remove almost all benches from within a block of Trade and Tryon Streets for 30 days. The Task Force includes representatives from shelters and other groups that work with the homeless, Center City Partners, CMPD, Mecklenburg County, and the Charlotte Housing Authority. The idea behind temporarily taking out the benches was to encourage homeless people to go to shelters instead of sleeping on the streets. But less than a week after making its request, Center City Partners asked city manager Ron Carlee to table the idea. The group was not available for comment. Carlee says it became a distraction. Instead, he says he’ll work with the task force to come up with a plan that’s quote “appropriate and respectful of all people with or without homes.”
CMPD says the number of homeless people congregating in uptown is increasing. Crime is also growing; police say that includes crimes committed both by and against the homeless. The bench removal idea was part of a 10-year effort to address homelessness in Charlotte. Shelters are working to increase capacity and to expand services including job and substance abuse counseling.