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Flashpoint: Charlotte's transportation plan, tent cities, and a return to virtual learning

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Three pressing topics on this week's Flashpoint: Charlotte is facing a growing homeless population with tent cities popping up all over town. Also, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools made the controversial call to send all students back home for virtual learning COVID-19 cases spike.

Finally, Charlotte is the fifth fastest-growing city in the country. The city can't quite keep up with the tens of thousands of people moving here every year -- we're outpacing the infrastructure built years ago.

This week, on Monday, the Charlotte City Council will get the first look at a new, big, bold long-term transportation plan with a $12 billion price tag.

A group led by former mayor Harvey Gantt created a comprehensive plan based on building new light rail, new roads, new bus routes, and new bike paths. It's all in an effort to make the city manageable and more equitable. 

There are two big hurdles city leaders will face, though: voters, and the general assembly up in Raleigh.

Silver Line would be partly funded by you, with possible tax hikes

Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt discusses Charlotte's infrastructure with WCNC Charlotte's Ben Thompson. Eiselt is the head of the city councils' transportation and planning committee.

Thousands of CMS students are returning to full remote learning, at least for now. The school board voted last week to keep students at home starting Monday.

It's a big adjustment for parents and students, as many of them only recently returned to the classroom. The pause on in-person learning will last until Jan. 19.

CMS votes to send students home, return to remote learning

Former Charlotte City Councilman Kenny Smith has been an outspoken critic of CMS's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. He spoke with WCNC Charlotte's Ben Thompson on Flashpoint about his concerns with remote learning. 

Switching gears, Charlotte's "Tent City" is located just outside of uptown at 12th and College and has largely grown since the pandemic began. Many people migrated there to get closer to certain resources.

There are 91 people believed to be living in a tent city. More than 80 have some kind of substance abuse or mental health issue. 

Mecklenburg County said it doesn't have the authority to remove the encampment. Instead, leaders are relying on homeless outreach partners to get the word out about shelter and hotel room options.

Here's how you can help Charlotte's 'Tent City' this Christmas

This topic is something County Commissioner, Pat Cotham is passionate about. She discussed Charlotte's homeless situation happening now and its future challenges with Ben Thompson.

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