First-time homeless, others in need find holiday hope at the Charlotte Rescue Mission

For those who won’t be home for the holidays this year – including people who are experiencing homelessness for the first time – Charlotte Rescue Mission and scores of similar organizations across North America are providing services that will make the season a little brighter. According to the 23nd annual Snapshot Survey, conducted recently by the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM), about one in three (34 percent) who ask for help on any given day say they’re homeless for the very first time – an alarming statistic that seems to reflect the state of our economy and the ability of people to cope with their situations.
“We count it a blessing to be able to provide much-needed assistance to individuals and families right now,” said Rev. Tony Marciano, Executive Director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. “The generosity of our community has meant that we have the resources to offer practical help and real hope during the holidays, a time of year that can be very difficult for people on any lower rung of the poverty ladder.”
The survey, conducted among approximately 19,000 people served at Charlotte Rescue Mission and more than 100 other organizations, provides a clear picture of who is seeking assistance from rescue missions. One statistic that frames the situation is that nationally, 83 percent of the participants reported being homeless, as opposed to having accommodations elsewhere but seeking food, clothing, or other aid. Locally, 100 percent of men and 81 percent of women surveyed defined themselves as homeless.
Among those who were homeless, 26 percent across North America had experienced homelessness once previously, 17 percent had been without a home twice in the past, and 22 percent reported being homeless three or more times before arriving at a mission. Of the people Charlotte Rescue Mission surveyed, 41 percent of men and 19 percent of women told the staff they had not been homeless in the past, 22 percent of men and 31 percent of women said they had been in their situation once previously, 2 percent of men and 19 percent of women had experienced homelessness twice before, and 34 percent of men and 31 percent of women had gone three or more times without a place to call home. For many people in the midst of homelessness, it is a long-term problem. Of those across North America who reported they were homeless, 27 percent (17 percent of men and 46 percent of women locally) had been in their situation for more than a year. Fewer (20 percent) had been in need of a home for six months to a year (12 percent of men and 0 percent of women locally); 24 percent (39 percent of men and 54 percent of women locally) have been homeless for three to six months. About a third (30 percent) – and 31 percent of men and 0 percent of women at Charlotte Rescue Mission – said they had been homeless fewer than three months.
The study shows that the most prevalent homeless population is single individuals (81 percent of the total surveyed, and 33 percent of men and 25 percent of women surveyed at Charlotte Rescue Mission). The North American statistics also show that women with children are the most common family unit to visit missions for help, representing 51 percent of total families.
The Snapshot Survey also revealed that one in four people (50 percent of men and 100 percent of women at Charlotte Rescue Mission) who seek aid at rescue missions have experienced physical violence within the past year. This appears to be the beginning of a trend that AGRM has been following in recent years – one that is very troubling. Again, it could reflect people’s ability to cope with their economic situations.
Charlotte Rescue Mission sees those who are 36-46 years old most often. At rescue missions across North America, most people served (81 percent and 100 percent locally) say they prefer a mission with a spiritual emphasis.
About Charlotte Rescue Mission

The Charlotte Rescue mission provides a free 90-day Christian residential program for men and women who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol and are predominantly homeless. For more information, visit or call 704-333-HOPE.

About Association for Gospel Rescue Missions

Founded in 1913, the Colorado Springs-based AGRM is North America’s oldest and largest network of independent crisis shelters and rehabilitation centers, offering radical hospitality in the name of Jesus. With approximately 275 member missions, AGRM exists to proclaim the passion of Jesus toward the hungry, homeless, abused and addicted, and to accelerate quality and effectiveness in member missions. For more information, visit or call (800) 4RESCUE.