The Relatives was founded in 1974 by members of the Dilworth United Methodist Church. The parishioners saw children sleeping on benches along East Blvd and in Freedom Park, so they created a shelter in the church basement. The Relatives received its name from the youth staying in the shelter. Rather than tell their friends at school they had run away or were struggling with homelessness, the kids said they were staying “with relatives.” This spirit of family, guidance, support, and compassion is at the core of everything we do.
After outgrowing the church basement, The Relatives moved to a home on East Boulevard where it continues operating today. The East Blvd Youth Crisis Center serves youth ages 7-17 and is Mecklenburg County’s sole emergency shelter serving youth and adolescents.
In 1988, The Relatives became the designated Safe Place agency for Mecklenburg County.
In 2003, The Relatives merged with Alexander Youth Network.* The Relatives is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alexander Youth Network, with our own Board of Directors and 501(c)(3) status.
In 2010, The Relatives expanded programming to serve young adults ages 16-24 with access to counseling, GED tutoring, and employment readiness through our On Ramp Resource Center.
In direct response to the number of homeless young adults visiting On Ramp, The Relatives created our Housing program in 2016, serving young adults ages 18-24. We utilize a scattered site housing approach and provide program participants with a gradually reducing subsidy. This is the only housing program in Mecklenburg County serving the often hidden population of homeless young adults.
*The Relatives and Alexander Youth Network are both 501(c)(3) North Carolina nonprofit corporations and are accredited by the Joint Commission. Accreditation assures those we help that programs comply with strict standards to ensure they are safe and effective.