The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY DEON ROBERTS der­[email protected]­lot­teob­ Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts

The Ob­server has raised nearly $180,000 to send kids to camp in its an­nual Sum­mer Camp Fund cam­paign this year.

A mas­sive, month­s­long ren­o­va­tion has been com­pleted at Men’s Shel­ter of Char­lotte, trans­form­ing the well-known North Tryon Street fa­cil­ity for home­less on the in­side and out.

On Satur­day, men be­gan re­turn­ing to the site, which re­opened after be­ing shut­tered dur­ing the nearly five-month, $5.8 mil­lion project. The prop­erty had not un­der­gone a sig­nif­i­cant ren­o­va­tion since it was es­tab­lished in 1985 in the for­mer home of a plumb­ing sup­ply ware­house, shel­ter Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Liz Clasen-Kelly said.

“It was in ut­ter dis­re­pair,” she said. “It was dark, dis­mal. Our build­ing did not rep­re­sent the heart of our agency.”

The sweep­ing changes at the 1210 N. Tryon St. build­ing in­clude a new roof; pip­ing; kitchen equip­ment; and heat­ing, ven­ti­la­tion and air-con­di­tion­ing sys­tem. In ad­di­tion, sleep­ing and shower ar­eas have been over­hauled, in­clud­ing mak­ing them more pri­vate. Other rooms have been re­fur­bished, such as a well­ness wing and an area where men use com­put­ers to search for hous­ing and job open­ings.

Changes on the out­side in­clude a park­ing area that has been con­verted to a small park, next to an added area for play­ing bas­ket­ball.

“With this ren­o­va­tion, we’ve cre­ated a space where our men can feel good about start­ing over, ver­sus a place that felt like you had hit rock bot­tom,” Clasen-Kelly said.

The site is one of two cam­puses owned and op­er­ated by the non­profit Men’s Shel­ter. The other is on Statesville Av­enue.

Dur­ing con­struc­tion, the non­profit pro­vided al­ter­na­tive hous­ing, in­clud­ing at its Statesville Av­enue cam­pus. Postren­o­va­tion, 20 beds are be­ing added at the Statesville site, up from 150 pre­vi­ously.

In Meck­len­burg County, they are the only shel­ters open to men year-round.

Clasen-Kelly said the North Tryon shel­ter – which has 230 beds post- ren­o­va­tion, up from 200 – has been at ca­pac­ity since she took over the agency in Septem­ber 2016.

Last year, the av­er­age stay at the shel­ter was around 100 days, ClasenKelly said. That has risen to about 150 days, she said.

A key fac­tor for the in­crease is Char­lotte’s short­age of af­ford­able hous­ing, she said, adding that half of the men who come into the shel­ter have some form of in­come. “It’s be­com­ing harder and harder to move out of the shel­ter, be­cause it’s be­com­ing harder for peo­ple to find hous­ing they can af­ford.”

Men’s Shel­ter raised a mix of pri­vate and pub­lic dol­lars for the ren­o­va­tion project, Clasen-Kelly said, in­clud­ing $500,000 from the city of Char­lotte. Other fund­ing sources in­cluded Men’s Shel­ter board mem­bers, foun­da­tions and an anony­mous $1 mil­lion gift, she said.

PHOTOS BY DEON ROBERTS der­[email protected]­lot­teob­

The Men’s Shel­ter of Char­lotte on North Tryon Street re­opened Satur­day after a nearly five-month ren­o­va­tion. The fa­cil­ity now has more beds – 230, up from 200.

Sleep­ing and shower ar­eas were over­hauled, and made more pri­vate, dur­ing the shel­ter ren­o­va­tion. Other rooms also were re­fur­bished, in­clud­ing a com­puter area and a well­ness wing. Men be­gan re­turn­ing Satur­day.

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