The mission of Crisis Assistance Ministry is to provide assistance and advocacy for people in financial crisis, helping them move toward self-sufficiency.
Our vision is to inspire our community to justice and generosity as we provide help, hope, and understanding to people struggling with limited financial resources.
Crisis Assistance Ministry helps Mecklenburg County families experiencing poverty with life’s most basic needs: emergency financial assistance for rent and utilities, plus clothing, household goods, furniture, beds, and appliances provided free-of-charge.
To help families achieve self-sufficiency, customers are empowered through one-on-one coaching and strategic collaborations to remove barriers to economic mobility. To provide advocacy for people in financial crisis, community education and engagement opportunities help people understand the complexities and challenges of poverty.
Crisis Assistance Ministry was created in 1975 by a group of local churches as a single, centralized place for Mecklenburg County residents to receive emergency financial assistance to prevent homelessness and utility disconnection.
Years later, the agency was the obvious choice when Charlotte leaders wanted to consolidate numerous clothing closets, and the Free Store was founded to provide a dignified shopping experience for families experiencing poverty.
In 1985, a county-wide task force was convened to create an efficient way to serve the growing number of people facing homelessness and the result was the designation of Crisis Assistance Ministry as the Lead Agency for all Mecklenburg County emergency financial assistance.
During the 1990s, the community again looked to the agency to centralize the distribution of furniture, beds, and appliances, and the Furniture Bank was born.
In 2012, the agency began serving people leaving homeless shelters and moving into stable housing by providing financial assistance and essential furniture. Together, these efforts comprise the Basic Needs Program at Crisis Assistance Ministry.
Over time, it became clear that a new form of casework was needed to help people move up the economic ladder. This led to the launch of the Economic Mobility Program in 2012. A longer-term coaching model, coupled with strategic collaborations, empowers customers to identify barriers to financial security and create their own pathways to economic opportunity.
In 2008, the Board of Directors focused on the advocacy role in our mission and determined that Crisis Assistance Ministry should offer educational opportunities, including two-hour, immersive Poverty Simulations, to create awareness in the community about the challenges and realities of poverty. Coupled with the demand for our leaders to speak to civic groups, business forums, houses of faith and the media, the agency launched a Civic Engagement Program in 2018.
Today, Crisis Assistance Ministry continues to serve as a one-stop shop for Mecklenburg families facing poverty. Whether providing a coat to a woman who is homeless, a utility payment for a single father who is trying to keep his home warm, or rental assistance for a veteran who has fallen on hard times, Crisis Assistance Ministry preserves the dignity of customers while preventing homelessness and eviction.