Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hall House

There are over 2,000 children in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System who are homeless this winter. Several charities and government agencies came together to transform an empty building into shelter for a hundred families of schoolchildren. This was made possible by the hard work of hundreds of volunteers - young and old, religious & non-believers, who transformed the dilapidated, roach infested, abandoned building into a clean, healthy, safe, and livable home to keep children and their mothers off the streets. This is their story, which I wanted to tell through photography:

The historic Hall House, built in 1940 on Tryon Street as a luxury hotel, sat vacant and in a state of disrepair until just recently. Several charities and government organizations came together to renovate the Charlotte Housing Authority property in order to provide temporary housing for some of the city’s 2,000-plus homeless children and their mothers.

Volunteers showed up by the hundreds January 2nd and 3rd to work on the old structure and prepare it for occupancy. Six floors, each with twenty 600-square-foot units, had to be thoroughly cleaned, painted, have repairs made, and have furniture and beds delivered. Many parents who volunteered brought along their children to help. Three generations of the one family I spoke with showed up Saturday to help with preparations.

Due to fire regulations, all the old stoves had to be removed. Each kitchen will have a working refrigerator and sink, and every floor will have a microwave. A volunteer stated that the bunk beds were built by local Boy Scouts, and that all bedding such as pillowcases, sheets, and blankets have to be new and unused due to health regulations. Many sets of blankets, sporting numbers and bright logos of race car drivers, were donated by NASCAR. Much of the furniture, such as chairs and nightstands, were donated by a local hotel.

Twenty children and their mothers began moving in later thatweek, with 20 more each following week until the Hall House is home to 100 families. The Hall House is planned to be only a temporary shelter, and volunteers hope to find many of the residents permanent housing by July.

To be continued...

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