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The Relatives in the News:

9 Investigates: The community efforts to stop gun violence among kids, teens

WSOC-TV | August 24, 2022

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Channel 9′s deep dive into the crisis of kids and violence in our community is turning from the causes to solutions.

Our Allison Latos took a look inside the efforts on our streets to stop shootings and save lives. Arresting kids and prosecuting them isn’t the only option. There are a lot of people pushing to have a personal impact on our kids, but the need for resources is rising.

Deondre Hill, now 24 years old, recounted his teen years to Latos.

“I carried a gun from here and there,” he said. “I was shot before.”

Hill’s past is peppered with problems — from guns and drugs to run-ins with police. At 15, he skipped school and spent his days at the transit center in uptown Charlotte.

“That was the place where we made our money from selling drugs, maybe doing drugs,” Hill said.

But that was also where Hill first heard of The Relatives, a resource center for kids and youth in crisis.

“I’m evolving into who I’m supposed to be,” he told Latos. “Now I’m in college to be a mechanic.”

His is one of countless stories about kids who turned their lives around.

“I was stealing cars for a long time, doing drugs, trying to figure out who I am,” Amber Graves said. “I was facing five years,” she said.

The Relatives helped Graves turn her life around too.

“When someone can see something inside you that you can’t see yourself…The Relatives enrolled me back in school and drove me to school,” she said. “I am not who I used to be, I’m still growing.”

According to the latest Leading on Opportunity Task Force report, there are 45,000 disconnected youth in Charlotte. Those are the 16- to 24-year-olds who aren’t in school or employed. The number of young people who The Relatives helps find housing, education and employment is rising.

Nonprofit that serves Charlotte youth moves to bigger space

Spectrum News | August 18, 2022

The Relatives moved their On Ramp Resources Center into a new space on Freedom Drive that organization leaders say is three times the size of their old space in Uptown.

Their new building has a kitchen, which is something their old building didn’t have.

With this new feature, they’re partnering with the Community Culinary School of Charlotte (CCSC) to provide culinary classes.

The Relatives have been around for 40 plus years,” said Chef Ron Alhert, the executive director of CCSC. “They know what they are doing. The Community Culinary School of Charlotte has been around for 25 plus years. We know what we are doing. We can help those that seek help in the culinary hospitality industry and we are going to use this wonderful room right here.”

They also have a shower, which is something their last building didn’t have, either.

The director of programs for The Relatives, Thomas Montaglione, says this will also make a big impact.

“This was one of the main needs for our young adults coming in, is they needed a place where they could not only wash their clothes, but also shower and feel dignified for an interview – or going out into the community or just needed a fresh place to freshen up for the day,” he said. “We have a population that needs support and needs to have these basic needs met. And this space really does provide that.”

Resource Center Coordinator Lauren Perino echoes that.

“Our goal is to meet all of our young adults where they are at from the base necessities hygiene, food, all the way up to driver’s license, social security card, achieving their education and employment, being able to maintain that and long-term goal, independence and stable living,” Perino said.

Nonprofit helps LGBTQ youth in crisis find housing and employment

Spectrum News | June 17, 2022

“We sort of act as their family, as their relatives so to speak to help them get the job, get the education so they can become independent,” The Relatives Executive Director Trish Hobson said.

Since October 1, 24% of the young adults they have served in this age group identify as LGBTQ. Imoney Cooper is one of them.

Cooper works full-time in retail. However, the 22-year-old and her girlfriend are homeless at the moment. The couple sleeps outside the house of one of Cooper’s family members.

“No situation that I’m in tears me down. I always keep the light in my eyes and keep going forward,” Cooper said.

She turned to the organization for help finding a place to live.

“This is a place that was helping out my aunt and her and her baby, in her situation. I felt this place would actually give me a chance to be where I want to be in my life,” Cooper said.

As part of the housing program, the organization helps young adults find rental properties. It takes a look at the income and expenses of participants and develops a budget. In addition, the nonprofit fronts housing-related expenses, including security deposits, utilities or rent participants can’t afford at the time. On average, the group provides subsidies to young adults for up to a year.

Mecklenburg County groups slated to get COVID-19 relief money

WBTV | March 16, 2022

Thousands of dollars from the American Rescue Plan are slated to be allocated to some Mecklenburg County organizations on the ground assisting those impacted by COVID-19. It’s the first round of funds and it’s money the organizations desperately need. They’re helping with everything from mental health and childcare to infrastructure and affordable housing and homelessness.

Leaders at two organizations focused on helping those find shelter said the money cannot come at a more important time. Staff at The Relatives, which assists with youth homelessness, and Roof Above say the pandemic and the affordable housing crisis in the city have made it hard to accommodate the influx of people looking for a lifeline. They said the money couldn’t come at a more pertinent time.

“Sixty percent come through without a high school diploma, so we help them with their GEDs, help get them housing,” Trish Hobson, executive director of The Relatives, said. “So, we’re providing subsidy so they can be stable in an apartment and work on their jobs and their education.”

Mecklenburg County says 1% of area apartments rent for less than $1,000

Spectrum News | February 2, 2022

Sean Scurlock, a housing case manager for The Relatives organization, said it did not surprise him.

“I come from working in Myrtle Beach and Asheville in the past. So, Myrtle Beach is much more lax, and Asheville has a very tight housing market as well. But because of the metro area that Charlotte’s in, and just the amount of people moving here on a daily basis, I really haven’t seen anything like it,” Scurlock said.

Scurlock, who has 10 years of experience connecting people in need to transitional and emergency housing, said the COVID-19 pandemic only made things worse.

“We have seen a decrease in the inventory of housing and the rental market available, we have seen an increase in the people who need it, and we have also seen an increase in the amount of people who are competing for an individual unit when it is available,” Scurlock said.

The Relatives, which works to help young people be, “Healthy, productive, engaged members of the community,” said its On Ramp Resource Center was currently helping 38 young adults and 19 of their children with housing.

 

Charlotte organization providing resources for homeless youth

WCNC | January 27, 2022

Adults are often the face of homelessness, but people forget children and young adults aren’t strangers to the issue.

“I was homeless last year in July,” Dajhun Mack told WCNC Charlotte.

At 21-years-old, Mack found herself without a place to call home, but it wasn’t just her who was homeless.

“I was couch surfing with my daughter, I had a six-month-old at the time,” she said.

 

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