Youth Crisis Center
The Relatives Crisis Center has been operating since 1974 providing a safe location for youth 7-17 who have run away from home, are homeless, or just going through a rough family situation with nowhere else to turn. For up to 14 days, youth have a SAFE place to go where they and their families can work on the issues that brought them to The Relatives Crisis Center. Most youth stay less than eight days because staff members work hard to put plans in place to keep families on track. Nine people can stay at a time, and everyone is expected to work hard on their problems, take care of the house, and help each other stay SAFE.
If you need help, some of the services we offer are:
24-hour Crisis Hotline
You can call us any time day or night to ask questions, talk about your problems, or find out how you can help someone you know.
Walk-In Crisis Support
You don’t have to stay at the house to get help. You can just walk up and have a meeting with one of our staff to figure out how to handle a situation that you are going through.
If you stay with The Relatives, or just walk up to our door for help, we will check up with you for a year if you want us to. If you are still having some problems and need help, you are always welcome to come back to talk with us. When we have activities going on that we think you would like, we will invite you back to join us, too.
We offer free classes to parents using the Love and Logic model of parenting. This is a way for parents to learn new techniques for handling situations that happen at home that sometimes get out of hand.
Here’s what we do when you come here.
First, we’re going to have a chat with you to see what you need and why you’re here. Then, if you want to stay, one of us has to call your parents to let them know where you are and that you are safe. The law says that kids 14 and under can only stay 24 hours without parental permission, and that kids over 14 can stay up to 72 hours without parental permission. No permission after that – No stay.
Next, if you’re staying, the staff will go over HOUSE RULES* with you, and help you put away for safe keeping any items not allowed at the shelter – that would be things like weapons, smokes, lighters, bad attitudes and stuff like that. Might as well not even bring anything you’re not allowed to have by law.
If you are in school in Mecklenburg County, you will continue attending your home school – and we will take you to school and pick you up – ain’t we nice?
If you have a job, you may be able to continue working as long as you can arrange your own transportation – we ain’t that nice — and the hours don’t interfere with the HOUSE RULES*.
While staying at The Relatives, you’re expected to help out around the house, follow HOUSE RULES* and participate in group activities. That’s right, we’re kind of like MTV’s Real World.
You are always free to leave The Relatives at any time. And if you don’t obey the HOUSE RULES* we may ask you to leave.
So you want to know about the staff?
The Relatives is a program operated by Alexander Youth Network. It is run by an executive director with a lot of experience in youth programs like this. At least two staff members are at The Relatives at all times, and most of them have college degrees in human services areas of study and experience in youth and family counseling. They all know a lot about what’s available in the area to help kids and families with just about any problem they could face.
And you want to know about the food?
We have regular meal times and the food is good, but this ain’t the Ritz. Fact is though, a lot of restaurants and other nice folks help us out with food so you aren’t always eating food fixed by the staff – thank the Lord!
* the rules aren’t that big a deal.
The Relatives is open 24-hours a day, every day of the year. The CRISIS HOTLINE can take calls around-the-clock at 704-377-0602.
The Relatives is located at 1100 East Boulevard, about half-way between South Boulevard and Kenilworth Avenue. It’s the big red brick house with the rocking chair front porch and the green and white sign out front that says, what else, The Relatives. You don’t have to call before you come.
If you can’t get to The Relatives on your own, and are worried about your safety, you can go to a SafePlace site and they’ll help you out and either bring you here or call us. SafePlace sites in Mecklenburg County include any fire station, the main bus depot downtown, and any Bojangles restaurant. Any Charlotte police officer will also give you a lift to the shelter, and any city bus driver will ensure you get here free if you ask.
If you want to take the city bus on your own, start from the main transit center uptown and take the 6 or 18 lines and get off at the corner of Scott and East Blvd. and walk toward South Blvd. until you see our sign in the yard. Or take the 19 line, get off on the corner of Park Ave. and East Blvd. and walk toward Freedom Park until you see our sign.
Frequently Asked Questions
Okay then, you know The Relatives is a shelter for boys and girls age 7-17. It’s free and you can stay up to 14 days if there’s room. You probably have other questions. We’ve answered some here. For the answers to the rest, you either have to call or come by. You’re always welcome.
Kids seek help from The Relatives for a variety of reasons. Sometimes help is just a hot meal and some straight talk. Other times you may need a safe place to stay while staff helps you and your family deal with the problems that led to where you are now.
No. The Relatives is the only shelter for youth in Mecklenburg County and it is operated by a local nonprofit agency called Alexander Youth Network. The money to pay for the shelter to be open every day of the year and around-the-clock comes from national, state and federal grants, corporations, foundations, individuals and even some former residents.
The Relatives is affiliated with the National SafePlace program. SafePlace helps identify places all across the nation where youth can go if they feel threatened or need safety. The Relatives is one of many SafePlace sites. Some others in the county include the fire stations, the bus depot downtown and Bojangles restaurants.
First, we want to offer a safe place for kids who might otherwise be staying on the streets. Second, we want to help you and your family come to terms with the problems that caused you to want to get out of the house or be pushed out of the house. We help you stay safe while we also help you find the help you need.
The shelter has 9 beds and is co-ed. We’re usually pretty full so we usually have 9 kids staying and a couple of staff on duty at all times.
No, you are free to leave at any time. And sometimes, we ask people to leave if they aren’t following the rules or they are making it so the other residents don’t feel safe.
You can’t smoke here ’cause this is a really old house and would go up like a matchstick if there was an accident. You can’t do any of the stuff you aren’t supposed to do by law – like drink, do drugs, gamble and participate in insider trading. We also don’t allow you to keep food and drink in your room ’cause we don’t want problems with bugs and mice; and…….. If it’s legal and you have it when you come here, you can give it to us and we’ll keep it until you leave.
We have rooms with three beds to a room. You will have a storage space for personal things. If you have a suitcase or a backpack with clothes, bring it. If you have five suitcases with clothes, we may have a little problem with space. If you don’t have many clothes, don’t worry about that either. We have lots of cool stuff you can wear. We also have personal products like hair care things and toothbrushes.
You can still take it. We’ll hold it for you to help ensure that you take it and no one else does, and we’ll help you get refills if you need it.
If you are under 16, you have to go to school. It’s the law. If you are over 16, you can stay at the shelter during the day, or if you have a job, you can continue to work. We don’t supply transportation, but you can catch the bus nearby. If work interferes with our House Rules (there’s that rule thing again) then it’s your choice – work or shelter. That’s generally only a problem if you work the red-eye shift or work past everybody’s bedtime. Nobody wants you stumbling in at 1 in the morning.
Meals are free. We make breakfast every day – early on school days, later on the weekends. We can supply you with a lunch to take to school, and we have dinner on a tight schedule each night. Meals are all scheduled. You can skip a meal, but you have to do it sitting with us at the table. The food is pretty good. We do buy groceries and we have special arrangements with some restaurants to supply us with special meals so we don’t always have to rely on the culinary skills of our social worker staff.
Boy do we get this question a lot. Yes, we have a TV and we have video games and we have books and games and other things to do in your spare time. We also have group activities and when we’re doing things other than watching TV, we generally turn the TV off.
If it belongs to you, you can bring it, but it must stay parked while you live here.
Sorry, we can only have youth here that are 7-17. We’re just not equipped to serve moms and babies or toddlers. You may want to contact the Salvation Army women and children’s shelter.
That’s one of the items we hold for you while you’re here. If you need it for work, we can give it to you on the way out each day, but we have to get it back when you come in.
We don’t allow visitors other than family members, and they can only come at certain times and with an appointment ahead of time. Otherwise, we’d be having a house party here every night. We’ve found most kids that come here just want some peace and quiet.
The law is the law. We’ll help you figure out the best way to handle this, but we can only offer a night’s stay if you’re 14 or under without permission, and we can only offer three nights stay if you are over 14 without permission. To be honest, we talk to a lot of parents, and most of the time, they are glad you are somewhere safe, and they are generally willing for you to stay with us and let us help you and them work things out.
Other than your parents, no one has to know you are here unless you tell them or give us permission to tell them in order to help you out.
The services don’t cost you or your family anything, but it does cost a lot of money to operate a shelter year-round. We get a lot of help from people who care about helping you out.
Only if you have a degree in social work and we offer you a job!
If you need a t-shirt, we probably have one laying around that you can have. If you mean a t-shirt with The Relatives name on it, sorry we don’t have any of those, but if you design one, maybe we can get someone to make them and we can send you one.