Families experiencing homelessness have a tough road, especially when finding a safe place to sleep is a challenge. Sleeping in public is dangerous, frankly: from robbery to sexual assault, threats abound. Restaurant and hotel parking lots may seem like a natural choice but those businesses aren’t very welcoming, as a rule. A used-car dealership in Charlotte is doing something bold and kind, offering homeless families a secure place to park and sleep overnight. James Charles made the decision to turn the lot into a shelter each night and people are taking notice, especially those in need of a safe place to sleep.
It all started with a Facebook post James put up on January 23, a post that has attracted about 20 families since then, according to CNN. It simply read, “We know that some families are struggling and in a tough situation. Yea whole families sleeping in the car… We will provide a safe place to park at night. As this service to the community develops we will look to help these families in other ways but right now a safe place is what we can offer.” Some have come for a night, others have come nightly, for weeks. James and his family were once homeless themselves, so naturally, he’s sensitive to the condition.
The house he was renting in 2015 was home until the owner sold it, without James’ knowledge. James had to move his family suddenly, forced to stay in hotels and at times, came dangerously close to having to stay at the dealership. It was a very challenging time but James, his wife and their six kids eventually pulled through and now he’s paying it forward, to others. In addition to providing a safe place to sleep, James and his family started a nonprofit organization, HALO Now, and a GoFundMe. The money raised will be used to pay the security deposit and first month’s rent to help individuals and families living in their car get back into apartments. Charles has also committed to donate $200 personally for every car his dealership sells. He hopes to help 100 homeless families this year.
The lot at Kiplin Automotive Group is filled nightly with people who work full-time jobs and others who’ve fallen on hard times and are seeking work. All of them are victims of circumstance and could use a hand. James Charles understands their struggle and rather than send “thoughts and prayers,” Charles is answering a few prayers, himself. All hero’s don’t wear capes, some sell cars.