Entries by Cathy Bessant and Eugene A. Woods

2025 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Strategy: A Joint Effort to Address Current and Prevent Future Homelessness

Today a broad consortium of the public, private and non-profit sectors is pleased to announce the launch of a comprehensive community-wide effort to create a strategic plan around housing instability and homelessness in our community: 2025 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Strategy. As co-chairs for the working group which is launching the new strategy, we are pleased to share that nearly 50 city, county, corporate and non-profit leaders, including those who serve on the front lines of housing instability and homelessness and those with lived experience are all part of this comprehensive community undertaking. And, the effort will continue to grow with more leaders continuing to be added to this team. By October 2021, this group will have developed and begun to launch a five-year strategic plan to help Charlotte-Mecklenburg become a national leader in addressing current and preventing future homelessness by offering aligned strategies, unified goals, and clear funding pathways. Our shared vision is that homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring in Charlotte-Mecklenburg where every person has access to permanent, affordable housing and the resources to sustain it.  This plan will be presented to both City and County for consideration as adopted policy. The same entities, doing the same things, in the same ways, will never produce different results. It is critical that we, as a community, change our approach. The purpose of this community update is to share a more in-depth introduction to this effort, including goals and initial milestones, and what this work can mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg, and beyond.

Notice: HUD changing how it communicates information

On Wednesday March 31, 2021, HUD issued the following notice to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg CoC: Effective immediately, HUD’s Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs (SNAPS) will use two different listservs on HUD’s website to communicate information regarding information developed by HUD/SNAPS concerning: Continuum of Care (CoC) Program; Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Programs; Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP); Other Notices of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) developed by SNAPS; and
Any other information related to SNAPS programs and the work to end homelessness.

One Number Update: March 2021

Mecklenburg County Community Support Services first released the “One Number” in 2019 as part of the annual Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness Report. Since that initial release, the One Number has become the “go-to” number for the count of people who are experiencing homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

The One Number is found on the Housing Data Snapshot, a hub for the latest information related to housing and homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Generated from a By-Name List within the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), the One Number captures the number of people enrolled in Emergency Shelter; Transitional Housing; Street Outreach; Rapid Re-housing (if there is no move-in date to housing yet); and Coordinated Entry inventories in HMIS. The One Number includes both total sheltered homelessness and a portion of the individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. In addition, the One Number can be broken down by both household composition and population type; 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 or by inflow/outflow), the community can identify trends.  Once identified, these trends can then inform interventions. To read more about how the One Number works, click here. This week’s blog post provides the most recent One Number update; latest trends and analysis; and what this means for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Eviction Prevention during COVID-19: An Update

After the North Carolina Stay at Home Order was issued nearly one year ago, the NC 2-1-1 system was flooded with calls by households seeking housing and financial assistance. 2-1-1 is the number that those facing a housing crisis in the state call to be connected to resources. In addition to an overall increase in callers, there also seemed to be a “new” at-risk population emerging from the shadows: individuals and families who had been paying either day to day or week to week to live in hotels or motels. While this form of homelessness pre-dates the pandemic, it has been considered “hidden” and there are little to no federal, state and/or local resources dedicated to addressing it. Faced with a sudden loss of income from COVID-19-related closures, these households were now on the edge of an entirely different type of homelessness: emergency shelter and/or unsheltered locations like parks, streets, cars and tents. In addition, as the novel coronavirus started to spread locally, the tidal wave of households newly in need of shelter also posed a potential public health crisis. This week’s blog provides an overview of the work to address this segment of the homeless population during the pandemic, and what this work can mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

One Number Update: February 2021

Mecklenburg County Community Support Services first released the “One Number” in 2019 as part of the annual Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness Report. Since that initial release, the One Number has become the “go-to” number for how many people are experiencing homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The One Number is found on the Housing Data Snapshot, a hub for the latest information related to housing and homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Generated from a By-Name List within the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), the One Number captures the number of people enrolled in Emergency Shelter, Transitional Housing, Street Outreach, Rapid Re-housing (if there is no move-in date to housing yet), and Coordinated Entry inventories in HMIS. The One Number includes both sheltered homelessness and a portion of the individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. In addition, the One Number can be broken down by both household composition and population type; 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.  Once identified, these trends can then inform interventions. To read more about how the One Number works, click here. This week’s blog post provides the latest One Number update; trends and analysis; and what this means for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

New Homeless Data on Race & Ethnicity Released Today

In June 2019, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services (CSS) released the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Racial Equity Analysis tool. The Racial Equity Analysis (REA) tool was a critical first step in calling attention to disproportionality in the housing instability and homelessness continuum.  The REA tool describes the scope of racial disparities within our housing and homelessness system by analyzing and visualizing the racial and ethnic distributions of local homelessness and poverty rates in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. In March 2020, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the CoC Analysis Tool: Race and Ethnicity. Utilizing Point-in-Time Count and American Community Survey data, the HUD tool showed the percentage of individuals in each Continuum of Care (CoC) who are living in poverty and/or experiencing sheltered or unsheltered homelessness by race and ethnicity. The REA and CoC Analysis tools laid the foundation for the development of additional local data tools that will support monitoring of Housing Data Snapshot data, disaggregated by race and ethnicity, in order to address the structural and systemic inequities across the entire housing continuum. The Housing Data Snapshot incorporates the “One Number,” which tallies the total number of persons who are experiencing homelessness and have an open Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) project entry in Emergency Shelter, Transitional Housing, Coordinated Entry, Street Outreach, and/or Rapid Rehousing (if there is no move-in date to housing) programs. The Housing Data Snapshot also provides a breakdown of inflow to the local homelessness system (newly identified individuals, persons returning to homelessness from permanent housing, persons returning to homelessness from an inactive status); outflow from the homelessness system (exits to permanent housing, exits to inactive status); and average length of time to housing. This week’s blog post is dedicated to the newly released One Number with data broken down by race and ethnicity.

One Number Update: Current State of Homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg

Mecklenburg County Community Support Services first released the “One Number” in 2019 as part of the annual Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness Report. Since its initial release, the One Number has become the “go-to” number for how many people are experiencing homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The One Number is found on the Housing Data Snapshot, a hub for the latest information related to housing and homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Generated from a By-Name List within the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), the One Number captures the number of people enrolled in Emergency Shelter, Transitional Housing, Street Outreach, Rapid Re-housing (if there is no move-in date to housing yet) and Coordinated Entry project inventories in HMIS. The One Number 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; 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.  Once identified, these trends can then inform interventions. We are excited to share today the latest One Number update, which includes a complete refresh of all historical One Number data; trends and analysis; and what this means for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

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.