Entries by Ken Szymanski

50 Years Ago Today: The Significance of the Fair Housing Act on its Anniversary

Growing up in the 1960’s like I did, you had to be living under a rock not to be affected by the ultra-compelling and ultra-unfair conditions of racial discrimination and racial segregation in U.S. cities. The cause of those who fought against these inequities was gripping and undeniable – the folks who stood up were on the right side of the issue, even at a time when not many were willing to stand up. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. And the Federal Fair Housing Act was enacted on April 11, 1968 – one week later. No coincidence. Read more to learn about the significance of the Fair Housing Act 50 years later.

The Street Outreach Connection: A Point-in-Time Count Reflection

The Point-in-Time Count  is most often talked about in terms of the data collected: How many people were unsheltered? Is homelessness in our community increasing or decreasing? What’s not discussed as often are the stories of the people behind the data, and the direct impact the Point-in-Time Count can have in ending someone’s homelessness. The Point-in-Time Count provides a dedicated day in which street outreach staff know they will have the added capacity to actively seek out all people experiencing homelessness outside across Mecklenburg County and ask about who they are and what they need.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Evictions Part 2: Mapping Evictions Released Today

The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and Mecklenburg County Community Support Services released Charlotte-Mecklenburg Evictions Part 2: Mapping Evictions Tuesday, March 20, 2018. Evictions Part 2: Mapping Evictions is the second of three reports on the topic and marks the first time local eviction data have been mapped at the neighborhood level.  The report shows where formal evictions occur and links eviction data with Quality of Life Explorer data to explore the characteristics of neighborhoods with high and low rates of evictions.

Second Report on Evictions in Mecklenburg County to be Released Next Week

On Tuesday, March 20, the report, Mecklenburg County will release a new report authored by UNC Charlotte Urban Institute: “Charlotte-Mecklenburg Evictions Part 2: Mapping Evictions.” This is the second report in a series focused on evictions in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. This new report marks the first time local eviction data have been mapped, showing where evictions occur and exploring characteristics of neighborhoods with high and low rates of evictions.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Million Dollar Team: A Point-in-Time Count Reflection

A coworker of mine recently went through a harrowing experience with her family while wrapping up a family vacation out of the country. They spent two weeks snorkeling, hiking, and enjoying the beauty of the country, making wonderful memories to enjoy together for years to come. Packed and ready to head home, they were stopped at the airport by the most unexpected tragedy.

Identifying the Problem of Identification: A Point-in-Time Count Reflection

On the morning of February 1, I was assigned to the Fourth Ward district of Uptown Charlotte. One man that I interviewed told me that the primary reason he was not staying at a shelter was because his South Carolina ID was not acceptable for entrance. For me, this interaction brought to my attention the insular causes of homelessness that are exacerbated by federal and state policies regarding access to state-issued identification. It also encouraged me to consider the current requirements to enter emergency shelter as well as other services that people experiencing homelessness might require.

Underemployment & Homelessness: A Point-in-Time Count Reflection

The 2018 Point-in-Time Count Survey includes questions about income source and average monthly gross amount received. While conducting point-in-time surveys, one of the things I consistently heard from people I interviewed was that underemployment was one of their biggest barriers to being able to obtain stable housing. Many said they were working but needed more consistent work, higher wages, and more hours. For involuntary part-time workers in low-income households, unpredictable and unstable incomes, being paid less per hour, and having an increased likelihood of experiencing intermittent periods of unemployment can result in prolonged housing instability and prolonged homelessness.

We have little time: Let’s be purposeful

Are we as busy as we think we are?  Some of us may think we have time to devote to the things we love, however, when you dig into the scheduler, it’s easy to see how many opportunities we miss to do the things we cherish the most. It is hard to be too critical though, we are only human. If we want to ensure we are able to impact our community, we have to force ourselves to start making changes today.

We need to expand the conversation

I took for granted as a young professional that affordable housing and homelessness were a part of the same conversation. The development challenges we face as a city – homelessness, a shortage of more than 21,000 units for those making 50% or less of our area median income, the lack of social mobility in specific zip codes, the impact and persistence of racial segregation – cannot be solved project-by-project or campaign-by-campaign. They require a larger, inclusive, multidisciplinary conversation.