Once middle class, they're now the new homeless

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kenneth and Stacy Dowdy can't afford a place to live in Charlotte. Neither can Charles DuPree. But if you passed them on the street, you might not recognize them for what they are: Homeless.

They are among a growing number of newly homeless who don't fit old stereotypes. Many of them work regular jobs, or did until recently, nursing the sick, caring for other people's children, vacuuming offices, driving cabs.

They lived in apartments or houses, surviving paycheck to paycheck. One thing went wrong in this bad economy, and they didn't have far to fall before they ended up on the street.

Or in the cab of a pickup, where the Dowdys slept one night, treating it like a camping adventure for the sake of their young son.

Ten years ago, advocates warned that Charlotte needed more low-income housing for the working poor. Task forces convened, and city leaders promised action. A lot has been accomplished, but not nearly enough. After a decade of unprecedented prosperity, when Charlotte was better positioned to take on the problem, the city now finds itself unprepared.

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