A North Carolina family is using their business as an avenue to combat homelessness in their local community. According to People, James and Haydee Charles transformed their car dealership into a safe space for individuals without shelter to sleep during the night.
Nearly six months ago one of the couple’s six children came across a homeless man sleeping in an unlocked car parked in the lot at their Charlotte-based dealership Kiplin Automotive. After learning that the man was struggling to find shelter, they allowed him to sleep in a car at their dealership every night since. This wasn’t the first time the couple helped an individual who had fallen on hard times, however, the man’s unfortunate circumstances shed a light on the state of homelessness in their community. After witnessing how impactful their act of kindness was, the Charles’ set out on a mission to help others in need. They decided to make the unused space at their business’ lot available to those living in their cars.
The open invitation has led people from all walks of life to the lot. “We’re so excited because we know so many people need help,” James told the news outlet. “We’ve had five people stay with us just in the last few weeks. We’re not talking about people who are not working. We’re talking about people who work, they’re average people who have just run into hard times and they’re just trying to hold on, just trying to get back on their feet. That’s who we’re hoping will come here.” He and his wife experienced homelessness at one point themselves. The local community has rallied around the family’s initiative. Several people have donated clothes, food, and a portable bathroom for people staying in the lot to use.
The family—who has set out to help at least 100 families this year—hopes to expand their impact through the creation of a nonprofit dubbed HALO Now in which they will work towards providing individuals experiencing homelessness with financial assistance. They’ve also launched a GoFundMe page to raise funds for their project and hopes to partner with organizations like Project Outpour to provide resources for those in need.
Initiatives like the one being led by the Charles family are needed. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, over 500,000 people experienced homelessness on a single night in 2018.