Entries by Courtney LaCaria

Housing Counts: Using the Numbers on Housing & Homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg

Our community is preparing for the 2020 Point-in-Time Count on January 29 – the night when we count the number of people who are sleeping on the streets and in sheltered locations.  As part of these preparations, it is important that we look at all the numbers we use to enumerate the problems of homelessness and housing instability – and even more important that we understand how those numbers can be used to drive change. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Continuum of Care (CoC) is required, as part of the federal funding assistance it receives, to conduct a Point-in-Time Count each year. Our community is also required to report other homelessness data, including the number of children who experience homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS). This number, which is referred to as McKinney-Vento (MCV), differs from the Point-in-Time Count number; however, the two are sometimes combined or even compared to each other. It is vital that we have real knowledge of the numbers we use – including similarities and differences in data sets; ways in which the data sets are generated; reasons why the data are generated; and how the data sets can be combined, contrasted, or compared to understand problems and craft solutions. Charlotte-Mecklenburg combines the Point-in-Time Count data with other housing and homelessness information across the housing continuum.  This is released in a locally-generated, annual report called the Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness. This blog post will cover the key numbers featured in the local State of Housing Instability & Homelessness report. Descriptions are provided to help understand each number individually as well as how they can be used together to inform local decision-making. A handout with 2019 Data is also provided for you to download and use.

Housing Counts: Looking Back and Ahead: The Ongoing Need for Systemic Solutions

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Dashboard, which was launched in August 2017, serves as a one-stop-resource for housing and homelessness information for the community.  The site includes data, research, and information on local initiatives. On the day of its initial release, the Housing & Homeless Dashboard was visited by 100 discrete users and had over 1,000 pageviews. Over the last two years, that number has grown to almost 13,000 individually registered users and over 100,000 pageviews. The Dashboard is now read in cities across the United States, as well as in other countries (including France, Canada, Brazil, China, Germany and Italy). The site was always intended to be “more than a dashboard.” Therefore, the Dashboard has evolved several exciting additions; one is the Housing & Homeless Ecosystem of community organizations in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Ecosystem provides standardized definitions for housing types and interventions; identifies roles and responsibilities across the housing continuum; quantifies housing capacities; and outlines funding sources. Another added feature is the Housing Data Snapshot, which provides a monthly update on the number of people entering and exiting homelessness in the community. In June, the Dashboard incorporated a Racial Equity Analysis Tool to better understand access to and utilization of housing systems. Other additions, updates, and improvements, some of which are highlighted in the “So, What” section below, will also be made to the Dashboard in 2020. As always, this regular briefing – the Building Bridges Blog – provides analysis to help the community use local housing and homelessness data to drive decisions and understand impacts. As we start a new year, this blog post will cover some major topics from 2019 and discuss what those might mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg in 2020.

Housing Counts: Volunteer, Donate & Raise Awareness with the Point-in-Time Count

The Point-in-Time Count will take place on Wednesday, January 29, 2020. This is the one night each year when our community comes together to survey each person experiencing sheltered or unsheltered homelessness. It is also the time when we capture temporary and permanent housing capacity across the housing continuum. To read more about the kick-off to the 2020 Point-in-Time Count planning activities, click here. The Point-in-Time Count is more than a funding requirement; it serves as an important reminder that, behind every data point, is a person who counts. In 2018, Charlotte-Mecklenburg branded our Point-in-Time Count as Everybody Counts Charlotte to call attention to both the fact that we must ensure that everyone is counted, and because each individual matters. By enumerating the problem of homelessness, the Point-in-Time Count activities is also a call to action. This blog post provides information on volunteer opportunities, from conducting surveys to ensure everyone is counted, to donating winter-weather items, and including raising awareness about the need for more affordable housing.

Housing Counts: Prevention & Policy

Each community has its own characteristics and structures. However, evidence-based housing solutions can be effective in any setting. Most, if not all, may also be implemented from either the bottom up or the top down to take advantage of an area’s relative strengths. As an example, Kansas City unanimously adopted its first-ever tenant’s Bill of Rights last week as part of a larger policy shift. A tenant’s Bill of Rights is a housing policy solution that can positively impact both access to and sustainability of housing. This type of housing solution was also highlighted in a 2018 toolkit released by Mecklenburg County Community Support Services (CSS). The toolkit complemented the three-part report series on local evictions produced by UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and funded by CSS. The CSS Toolkit proposes a holistic perspective on a tenant Bill of Rights, with measures to support both tenants and landlords. The intent is to underline the importance of the tenant-landlord relationship: “…Strong landlord-tenant relationships can lay the foundation for solutions that can bring real change.” This blog post provides an overview of this housing solution and what it could mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Housing Counts: Housing Frames Matter

The planning activities for the 2020 Point-in-Time Count are underway. The Point-in-Time Count is more than a funding requirement; it serves as an important reminder that, behind every data point, is a person who matters. In 2018, Charlotte-Mecklenburg branded our Point-in-Time Count as Everybody Counts Charlotte to call attention to both: we must ensure that everyone is counted, because each individual counts. By enumerating the problem of homelessness, the Point-in-Time Count activities is also a call for action. The lack of affordable housing contributes to both housing instability and homelessness. In Mecklenburg County, there is a 27,022-unit gap for households at or below 30% of Area Median Income. Available housing that is affordable is the primary solution to reducing housing instability and ending homelessness. This year’s Point-in-Time Count will also spotlight solutions because, just as Everybody Counts, Housing Counts. This blog post shares new context about housing frames: the ways we frame solutions can influence the effectiveness of those solutions.

2020 Point-in-Time Count: Save the Date & Get Involved

The Point-in-Time Count will take place on Wednesday, January 29, 2020. This is the one night each year when our community comes together to survey each person experiencing sheltered or unsheltered homelessness. It is also the time when we capture temporary and permanent housing capacity across the housing continuum. The Point-in-Time Count and Housing Inventory Count are activities required of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Continuum of Care (CoC) in order to receive federal homelessness funding assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). Charlotte-Mecklenburg also goes above and beyond the minimum requirements to collect additional information to inform local decision-making. Mecklenburg County Community Support Services leads the Point-in-Time Count for the Continuum of Care. Although the Point-in-Time Count is not until January 2020, planning efforts must begin now. This blog post is the “kick-off” of these planning activities; and provides information on how agencies and individuals can get involved.

November 2019 Housing Data Snapshot Update

Mecklenburg County Community Support Services (CSS) partners with homeless service agencies in Charlotte-Mecklenburg to enter, collect, analyze, and report data on housing and homelessness in the community. As part of this work, CSS released the Housing Data Snapshot in June 2019. The Housing Data Snapshot provides regular updates for the One Number, “By-Name” List, and Coordinated Entry. This blog post highlights the latest changes and provides further analysis of the data added to the Housing Data Snapshot and what these changes mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

New Report Released on Prevention Assistance

Mecklenburg County Community Support Services releases today, October 14, a new report: Launch Upstream: Homelessness Prevention in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The first community report on prevention assistance in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the report provides a comprehensive look at the homelessness prevention continuum as an important catalyst within the Housing & Homelessness Ecosystem. This blog post will provide an overview of what is included in the report, why it matters and how Charlotte-Mecklenburg can use the report to address housing instability and homelessness.

New Report Released: 2019 State of Housing Instability & Homelessness

Mecklenburg County Community Support Services released today (September 26) the annual Housing Instability & Homelessness Report. The Housing Instability and Homelessness Report is the only community housing report that combines all data on housing and homelessness across the continuum. This report is part of the Housing Instability & Homelessness Report Series, which is produced by UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and funded by Mecklenburg County Community Support Services. This blog post describes key findings from the report and what it means for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

COMING SOON: THE 2019 HOUSING INSTABILITY & HOMELESSNESS REPORT

Next week, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services will release the annual Housing Instability & Homelessness Report, intended to provide data across the housing continuum in the community. This report is part of the Housing Instability & Homelessness Report Series, which is produced by UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and funded by Mecklenburg County Community Support Services. Now in its second year, The Housing Instability & Homelessness Report has been updated to align with the structure and definitions outlined in the recently released Ecosystem. In addition, new data has been added within each section of the continuum. This blog post highlights what to expect, including the new data and features for the 2019 report.