“Hearts Beat As One” Director Speaks Out About The Homeless Getting Evicted From Tent City In North Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Director of Hearts Beat As One Foundation Bethany McDonald says that moving the homeless from tent city poses a variety of problems and risks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
McDonald says, “The community that is being forced to relocate is the same group that has little to no access to testing, and has very few safety measures readily available (i.e. masks, gloves, sanitizer). Without these precautions in place, we are going against every recommended CDC guideline and expanding the potential risk of spreading the already rampant disease.”
McDonald says the homeless community has grown at an unsettling rate in Charlotte since the beginning of COVID-19, with many losing their jobs, getting evicted from low income housing and motels, and finding themselves on the streets as a last resort.
McDonald says The Hearts Beat As One Foundation, The Hearts for the Invisible Coalition, Watchmen of the Streets, and several other outreach organizations helped safely relocate residents of the lower tent city who got an evicted this past Friday, August 14th.
These organizations were on hand at the time of the eviction providing new tents, blankets, tarps, and other necessities according to McDonald.
To find a long term solution to getting the homeless off the streets McDonald says, “The solution can not be food donations, essential items, and daily check-ins. This cycle is exasperated by the thought that ‘others’ will take care of them. We need to work with the City and County to have a more holistic approach by triaging those who are homeless and ensuring that the chronic homeless have a place they can be housed and those seeking work can have access to resources needed to make that possible. Access to jobs, healthcare and food should be priority number one. Once the person begins work they can begin securing housing through programs like RampCLT. This problem will not be solved with reactive measures. It has to be solved with preventative measures.”
The Hearts Beat As One Foundation was started to serve several specific causes within the Mecklenburg County area with their main focus on animal welfare, homeless outreach, and emerging needs including the global pandemic, where they have donated over $55,000 to provide more than 38,000 meals to children and low-income adults, according to McDonald.
McDonald says anyone can get involved with helping the homeless by donating essential items to organizations like hers, including food, water, tents, batteries, toiletries, sunscreen, bug spray, pillows, and more.
One man, Donald Poole, says he is grateful to have met Bethany McDonald and to get in touch with her organization when he found himself homeless in Charlotte, “I was a little worried about were I was going to stay. Obviously I know it was going to be on the streets, which I was dreading, but one must do whatever is necessary to survive. As I was walking around, I saw two young women passing out things, and I also saw that there were tents set up outside. What would be the odds of these women having a tent? It must of been a good day for me, because not only did they have the tent, but also the accessories which included mattress linen, coolers, ice to fill up the coolers, etc.”
Poole says he has recently found employment and once again, Bethany and her foundation helped him get the necessary tools to get and keep the job.
“There are countless number of homeless people that rely on seeing her everyday, and the service that she provides free of charge. From the bottom of my heart, I truly am grateful for everything you’ve done for me, you have given me hope in humanity again. Please keep doing what you’re doing we love you and truly appreciate you,” says Poole.
McDonald says she operates her program with the goal of becoming a sustainable solution by assisting the homeless in any way possible including providing job specific clothing, supplies for trade and manufacturing jobs, as well as providing emergency and longer term housing options.
McDonald says, “Every single person that we come across in our outreach makes an indescribable impact; the people in these encampments have become like friends and family to us. The interactions that we have every day make us laugh, and cry, and connect with people deeply on a daily basis. While mental health and addiction play prominent roles for some, there are also doctors, artists, chefs, master carpenters and more that are also struggling to get back on their feet. Homelessness is something that can happen to anyone; there’s no room for judgement when we are all really just one situation away from losing everything.”
The Hearts Beat As One Foundation will begin to look at the probability of future pandemics, disasters, etc. in order to take preventative measures instead of reactive measures, as it is much less expensive to do so, according to McDonald.