Entries by Courtney LaCaria


Long-term Intervention: Eviction Prevention

Last week’s blog post launched a new series to share solutions from other communities and highlight interventions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to addressing the pre-existing issues of housing instability and homelessness, organizations are also adapting daily to new challenges to protect the health of clients and staff. These changes are critical to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus and ensure residents have safe, stable shelter or housing for as long as possible. This series will look at community responses to COVID-19 using a prospicient lens: What short-term, community responses can become long-term, systemic solutions?  Which immediate interventions can effectively and efficiently address the structural issues that lead to housing instability and homelessness? What “new thing” can evolve into “business as usual?”  And what is needed to create healthy, stable communities permanently? This week’s blog post is dedicated to interventions targeting eviction prevention.

From Short-term Impacts to Long-term Interventions

The COVID-19 pandemic has communities around the world grappling with their response, especially to highly vulnerable populations. These include people currently experiencing housing instability and homelessness, and those at the greatest risk of losing their housing. In addition to guidance from entities like the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD); the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH); and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), communities are sharing information with each other about how they are responding to the crisis. This blog post is the first in a new series that will focus on sharing solutions from other communities and highlighting interventions that can be used in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Housing Counts: Understanding CoC Performance

In February, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) released a new tool for Continuums of Care (CoCs): CoC Performance Profile Reports. The reports include information from FY14 to FY18 for all Continuums of Care; and also compile data from the Point-in-Time Count (PIT), Housing Inventory Count (HIC), system performance measures, and CoC Program Competition funding allocations. CoCs can view this information at the CoC-level, state-level, or federal level. This blog post provides an overview of the new report and how it can be used in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Housing Counts: Closing the “Low-Cost” Rental Unit Gap

Access to affordable housing units has decreased in communities across the United States, including Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The definition of “affordable” can range to as much as 120% Area Median Income (AMI); which is $94,800 annually for a family of four. According to the 2019 Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness Report, there is a documented gap of 27,022 housing units that are affordable and available to households earning below 30% of Area Median Income (AMI). For a family of four, this translates to an annual income of $25,750. A monthly rent affordable for this family is less than $650. However, the Fair Market Rent for a 2-bedroom unit in Mecklenburg County is $1,063. In 2019, the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University released “Documenting the Long-run Decline in Low-cost Rental Units by State” describing the decline of “low cost” housing units (units renting under $600 per month in inflation-adjusted terms) between 1990 and 2017. This blog post covers the highlights from this research and what it could mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Housing Counts: Student Homelessness

The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro released a new report in January on student homelessness in the United States. The annual report, Federal Data Summary School Years 2015-2016 to 2017-2018: Education for Homeless Children and Youth, provides information on students who experienced homelessness and were reported in public schools over a three-year comparison period. This blog post unpacks the definition used to measure student homelessness, highlights some of the key findings from the report and discusses what these findings could mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Housing Counts: Point-in-Time Count and the Local Questions, Local Response

The work to complete the 2020 Point-in-Time Count started on Monday, January 27 and will end on Sunday, February 2. Volunteers and providers are surveying individuals and families across Mecklenburg County to determine the number who slept in either emergency shelters, transitional housing, or in unsheltered locations on the night of Wednesday, January 29, 2020. The Point-in-Time Count is a mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) for Continuums of Care (CoCs), like the one chartered in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Data collected by HUD is then reported to the U.S. Congress annually, to inform federal resource allocations for housing and homelessness assistance. Charlotte-Mecklenburg also goes above and beyond the federal funding requirements to collect other data that can be used to make decisions locally. This blog post provides information on how Charlotte-Mecklenburg uses the Point-in-Time Count to collect local data that can be used in our community, as well as how the event connects additional resources to individuals and families currently experiencing homelessness.

January 2020 Data Update: One Number, By-Name List & Coordinated Entry

Mecklenburg County Community Support Services (CSS) partners with homeless services agencies in Charlotte-Mecklenburg to enter, collect, analyze, and report data on housing and homelessness in the community. As part of this work, CSS first released the Housing Data Snapshot in June 2019. Since then, the Housing Data Snapshot has been updated, expanded, and released each month.  The Housing Data Snapshot now provides a regular update 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.

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.