CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The parking lot at Kiplin Auto Group is a safe place for people living in their cars to park overnight.
James Charles, the general manager of Kiplin Auto Group, is sometimes sent to repossess cars when people stop payment. However, during one of those repossession trips, he found the woman wasn't making payments because she lost her job and was living in her car. Instead of taking the car away, he invited her to park in the car lot to stay safe while he and his wife found her a place to stay.
Charles also put a post up on Facebook letting people know they could park in the lot overnight. More than a dozen people showed up to use the space. Charles and his wife made a promise that if everyone had a job, or was working to find one, they would help them find a place to live as well.
People who heard about the overnight lot brought food, toiletries, a port-a-potty, and Hope Vibes recently donated a solar powered sink.
Hope Vibes helps people living without homes in the Charlotte area.
“It’s really a response to COVID, something we can provide for neighbors to be able to wash their hands, stay clean, stay sanitized, things like that,” Jeremy Moffett, the community engagement chair for Hope Vibes says.
Charles remembers one woman who was staying at the car lot overnight who was particularly excited abut the sink. “She said because its outside, the water is warm and when she washes her hands the water feels cleaner. I thought, man, the things we take for granted,” Charles says.
He and his wife dealt with their own eviction after the house they were renting was sold without their knowledge. It took $3,500 and a month of living in a hotel with six kids and a dog for them to finally get back on their feet. Thats why Charles says if someone has a job and they need help, he will be there.
“There’s so many people who need help but if you can only help one person, if you can change one persons life, just one, literally make their life better, that’s a lot,” Charles says.
Charles and his wife created a nonprofit, Halo Now, to help pay for deposits on housing and furniture for people moving into an apartment or home from the car lot.
As of August 24, 2020, 15 people have been helped into housing and there is no one currently staying overnight at the car lot.