Entries by Courtney LaCaria and Rosalyn Allison Jacobs


Evaluate Upstream Progress Update January 2021: Surviving the Storm

Last week, more than 40 individuals with diverse backgrounds, representing the public and private sectors, both for-profit and non-profit; as well as community advocates, participated in a two-day Design Sprint as part of “Evaluate Upstream.” Evaluate Upstream is a homelessness prevention system change effort focused on addressing structural factors that affect access to and sustainability of housing. The goal of Evaluate Upstream is to develop a comprehensive homelessness prevention assistance system in Charlotte-Mecklenburg that is grounded in shared accountability. The Design Sprint represented a critical pivot from the research, data collection, and systems mapping that occurred in the initial segments of this multi-phase process. The ideation that occurred during the Design Thinking “sprint” will lay the foundation for next steps, which will ultimately lead to the implementation of an effective, collaboratively designed prevention system. Evaluate Upstream was conceived well before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It originated as a Continuum of Care (CoC) planning grant request that was submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) over three years ago. The need identified at that time was the same as it is now: Charlotte-Mecklenburg has multiple organizations providing a range of prevention activities, but there is neither a unified strategy, nor a concerted effort to align the whole array of prevention resources to the needs of the populations at risk of experiencing homelessness. The COVID-19 pandemic (and subsequent assistance disbursed from the federal government to keep households from eviction) has only underscored the need for an optimized prevention assistance system that is complementary to the rest of the housing ecosystem. The purpose of this week’s blog post is to provide an update on Evaluate Upstream, including implications of this work for the housing ecosystem and for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

2020 Continuum of Care Year in Review

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Continuum of Care (CoC) has been working very hard during 2020, despite the many challenges this year has brought.  The Chair of the CoC Governing Board, Kathryn Firmin-Sellers, shared accomplishments during a full CoC membership meeting on Thursday, December 17th.

The presentation (click here to access slidedeck) highlighted new, innovative efforts that have been developed in response to COVID-19 to support individuals and families facing housing instability and homelessness.

New Report Release: Single Adult Homelessness Integrated Data Report

Mecklenburg County Community Support Services releases today (December 10) the Single Adult Homelessness Integrated Data (SAHID) Report. This is the first community report focused specifically on single adult homelessness. The report is part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Instability & Homelessness Report Series, which is funded by Mecklenburg County Community Support Services and completed by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. The SAHID report integrates four separate data sources to describe single adult homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. This includes characteristics of the population, as well as an overview of the types of relevant services and systems. Data was sourced from Crisis Assistance Ministry; Mecklenburg County’s Food and Nutrition Services (Department of Social Services); the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office; and the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). This blog post will provide an overview of the key findings from the report, and what it means for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Community Update: “Evaluate Upstream”

The August 19, 2020 Building Bridges blog post shared information about the homelessness prevention planning project, Evaluate Upstream: Optimizing the Homelessness Prevention Assistance System in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The project was launched in May 2020 by Mecklenburg County Community Support Services; and is funded by a Continuum of Care (CoC) planning grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The goals of the project are to document existing prevention resources across Charlotte-Mecklenburg; determine whether (and how well) they work together; design an optimally functioning prevention network; and develop an evaluation framework.  Together, these efforts will devise and sustain a homelessness prevention system to positively impact Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Six months into the project life-cycle, this week’s blog post will provide an update on Evaluate Upstream, including lessons learned and what’s next for the work ahead.

Estimating Future Homelessness

In the midst of a pandemic, there are a lot of unknowns: “When will the pandemic end?” “When will I be able to see my family, friends, or co-workers “in person” again?” “What do I do for the holidays?” Some households, especially those already living on the edge of housing instability and homelessness, might also be wondering, “How will I pay my rent (or mortgage) next month?” “If I get sick and can’t work, how will I cover my bills?” “If I get evicted, where will I go?” “How will I keep my job if I am homeless?” “How will I ever be able to find another home, and keep my family safe and healthy?” Prior to the pandemic, communities were already addressing the pre-existing conditions of housing instability and homelessness. These communities, like Charlotte-Mecklenburg, are also grappling with how to plan for what lies on the horizon: “How many more households will become homeless as a result of COVID-19?” “What resources are necessary to prevent this from happening?” “How do we prioritize these resources upstream and downstream?” The national eviction moratorium enacted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expires on January 1, 2021. Without additional action, communities will likely see an immediate increase in evictions; this will lead, ultimately, to increases in homelessness. One report by the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) projects that, as of January 2021, there could be as many as 240,000 eviction filings in the state of North Carolina alone; coupled with an estimated statewide rent shortfall of between $632 and $824 million. To help communities plan now, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) has shared a tool to estimate future homelessness. This week’s blog post will provide an overview of the tool, and how it can be used in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Housing First Charlotte-Mecklenburg Outcomes & Utilization Report Released Today: Housing First Works

In the shadow of COVID-19, it’s easy to lose sight of the strides Charlotte-Mecklenburg has made to address chronic homelessness. Housing First Charlotte-Mecklenburg (HFCM) was launched in 2015 to end chronic homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg by scaling housing first, particularly by expanding the housing first permanent supportive housing model. Housing first programs reverse the order homeless services were traditionally given: A place to live is the first step, not the final reward for complying with services and addressing personal challenges like mental illness or substance use. “Housing first” programs prioritize housing as an early step in service delivery; have low-barrier admissions policies; maximize client choice in housing and services; use a harm reduction approach to substance use and other personal challenges; and do not require service compliance or success in order for a tenant to maintain housing. The multi-sector collaborative HFCM effort included stakeholders from homeless services, local government, nonprofits, and the business community. Through HFCM and the continued work of the homeless services sector, over 1,000 individuals were housed between January 2015 and January 2020, the vast majority of whom remain in their housing. Today, the HFCM research team from UNC Charlotte, in partnership with Mecklenburg County, released the second of two summary reports from the multi-year research and evaluation project examining the effort. The Housing First Charlotte-Mecklenburg (HFCM) Outcomes & Utilization Report summarizes findings about the impact of housing provided through the multi-sector collaboration. The HFCM Process Evaluation Report was released in September and both reports are summarized in an Executive Summary also released today. This blog post will highlight some of the key findings from the report and what they could mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

One Number One Year Later: What’s New, What’s Changed, and What it Means

Mecklenburg County Community Support Services released the One Number almost one year ago as part of the annual Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness Report. Since its initial release, the One Number has been updated monthly on the Housing Data Snapshot, a hub for the latest numbers related to housing and homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Generated from a By-Name List from the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), the One Number captures the number of people enrolled in Emergency Shelter, Transitional Housing, Street Outreach, and Coordinated Entry projects in HMIS. This includes both sheltered homelessness and a portion of individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. In addition, the One Number can be broken down by both household composition and population type. These elements include single individuals; families; unaccompanied youth; veterans; and people experiencing chronic homelessness.  The One Number can also be analyzed by inflow to, and outflow from, homelessness. By comparing One Number data over time, (including by household composition and by inflow/outflow) the community can identify trends; these trends can then inform interventions. To mark the one-year anniversary of the One Number, we are excited to share information about what is new; what has changed; and why these changes matter for Charlotte-Mecklenburg. This includes a complete refresh of all historical One Number data; and new features that will allow a breakdown of One Number data by race and ethnicity.

Home4Good Framework Update: Housing & Economic Recovery in Response to COVID-19

In May 2020, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Continuum of Care (CoC) Governing Board adopted the Home4Good Framework. This structure is based upon work completed by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, and the Center for Budget Policies and Priorities. The framework provides guidance on the ways communities can maximize new funding from the CARES Act (and other sources) to both respond to the immediate, pandemic-driven crisis and plan for the longer-term economic recovery. The Home4Good Framework has six areas of impact: Coordinated Entry; Prevention; Unsheltered Homelessness; Sheltered Homelessness; Permanent Housing; and Strengthening Systems. Following the adoption of the Home4Good Framework, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg CoC formed a Home4Good Framework Workgroup to oversee the local adaptation and implementation of the Home4Good Framework recommendations. The workgroup subsequently formed six teams, with each dedicated to one impact area. The workgroup was charged by the CoC Governing Board to use data to analyze need across the housing continuum; identify and recommend alignment of funding opportunities and eligible activities; implement action steps, using the Home4Good framework; utilize an equity lens; and connect existing and new efforts to address housing instability and homelessness during the pandemic era, responding (and adjusting, when necessary) to changing conditions. This blog post provides an update on the work related to the Home4Good framework, including what this means for Charlotte-Mecklenburg; and next steps identified for the work ahead.

2020 Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness Report Released Today

Mecklenburg County Community Support Services releases today the 2020 Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness (SoHIH) Report. The SoHIH report is part of the annual Housing Instability & Homelessness Report series which is funded by Mecklenburg County Community Support Services and produced by UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. The 2020 SoHIH provides a single, dedicated compilation of all the latest data on housing instability and homelessness pertaining to Charlotte-Mecklenburg. This resource can be used by any and all stakeholders working to address housing instability and homelessness. The annual report combines local, regional, and national data on the full housing continuum (from housing instability to homelessness), and stable (permanent, affordable) housing. The report features data from the 2020 Point-in-Time Count; housing inventory and rental gaps; Housing Trust Fund; and system performance metrics. This blog post outlines the key findings from the 2020 SoHIH and what it could mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.