Entries by Courtney LaCaria

Point-in-Time Count Update

The Point-in-Time (or PIT) Count and its complementary activities, such as the Housing Inventory Count (or HIC) are mandated by the U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These required, annual activities of communities (like Charlotte-Mecklenburg) who receive federal funding to prevent and end homelessness.  The PIT Count provides a snapshot of the number of people who are experiencing homelessness on one identified night in January.  Experiencing homelessness, for the purposes of the PIT Count, is defined as those individuals in emergency shelter, transitional housing, or unsheltered locations. The HIC provides a snapshot of the number of beds and/or units available to temporarily house people experiencing homelessness, such as in emergency shelter and transitional housing; and the number of beds and/or units to permanently house people who have previously experienced homelessness, including rapid re-housing, other permanent housing, and permanent supportive housing.  The HIC is established on the same night as the PIT Count. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg PIT & HIC numbers are submitted each year to HUD. This data is combined with the results from other communities across the United States and then reported in the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR). The AHAR is submitted to the U.S. Congress to inform funding and policies to prevent and end homelessness. Communities can also use their PIT & HIC data to inform local funding and policy priorities. This blog post will provide an overview of the results from the 2020 PIT and HIC; information about the 2021 PIT and HIC; and how the PIT and HIC can be used to support the work to address housing instability and homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

The 2020 SoHIH Report: Deep Dive, Part 3: Unpacking the impact of COVID-19 on housing instability and homelessness

On September 26, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services released the 2020 Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness (SoHIH) report. The report provides a single, dedicated compilation of all the latest local, regional, and national data on housing instability and homelessness pertaining to Charlotte-Mecklenburg. This year’s report also lays the foundation for understanding the impact of COVID-19 on housing instability and homelessness. Part 1 of the 2020 SoHIH Deep Dive blog series covered the first three themes from the report, which are all related to the need for both increased access to and availability of permanent, affordable housing. Part 2 focused on the final two themes, which are both related to role that permanent, affordable housing plays in ensuring individual and public health. This blog post completes the series by synthesizing information from the report with current data and trends related to COVID-19. In addition, this blog post will highlight examples of new solutions from other communities which may be relevant to addressing housing instability and homelessness locally.

The 2020 SoHIH Report: Deep Dive, Part 2: Permanent, affordable housing is individual and public health

On September 26, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services released the 2020 Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness (SoHIH) report. The report provides a single, dedicated compilation of all the latest local, regional, and national data on housing instability and homelessness pertaining to Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Last week’s blog focused on the first three themes from the 2020 SoHIH report. This blog post will take a deeper dive into the final two themes, which are all related to role that permanent, affordable housing plays in ensuring individual and public health.

The 2020 SoHIH Report: Deep Dive, Part 1: Access to and availability of permanent, affordable housing

Last week, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services released the 2020 Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness (SoHIH) report. The report provides a single, dedicated compilation of all the latest local, regional, and national data on housing instability and homelessness pertaining to Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The report is intended to be the “go-to” resource for all stakeholders working to address housing instability and homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Anchored by the three main components of the housing continuum: housing instability; homelessness; and permanent, affordable (or stable) housing, the report is designed to make information easily accessible. To help connect the data with stakeholders, there are also helpful complementary materials available. These include the Key Findings Handouts, Report Toolkit and Housing Data Factsheet. Last week’s blog shared five key themes from the 2020 SoHIH report. This blog post will take a deeper dive into the first three themes, which are all related to the need for both increased access to and availability of permanent, affordable housing. The post will also share examples of solutions from other communities and what this means for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

The Upcoming Release of the 2020 Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness Report: What’s New in this Year’s Report

On Thursday, September 24, 2020, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services will release 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 SoHIH is an annual report that provides a single, “go-to” document for all housing and homelessness-related data and information pertaining to Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The report combines local, regional, and national data on the full housing continuum, including housing instability, homelessness, and stable (permanent, affordable) housing. The report also features data from the 2020 Point-in-Time Count; housing inventory and rental gaps information; Housing Trust Fund; and system performance metrics. This blog post describes what is covered in the 2020 SoHIH, including what’s new, and what it could mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

The Housing & Homelessness Dashboard: Three Years of Connecting Data with the Community

When asked to describe the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Dashboard, I often start with, “Well, the Dashboard is really more than just a ‘dashboard.’” The word “dashboard” has always conjured for me static images of widgets in quadrants. But, as the Housing & Homelessness Dashboard has evolved, we learned that dashboards can be dynamic; they can provide an “at-a-glance” view of key indicators; and, like the dashboard of a vehicle, contain the instruments and controls needed to drive where you want to go. In that sense, “dashboard” has become the perfect name to encapsulate what it does. And, it still is more than just a dashboard. Mecklenburg County Community Support Services (CSS) launched the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Dashboard in August 2017. The Housing & Homelessness Dashboard was developed in partnership with the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. One goal of the Housing & Homelessness Dashboard is to provide a dedicated “hub” for all housing and homelessness related information, research and data pertaining to Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Since its release in 2017, the Housing & Homelessness Dashboard has expanded and to integrate new content and features. There have been over 20,000 users with 83,000 page views.  We have published over 100 blog posts. And, it is still growing and changing. This blog post will highlight just a few of the key additions to the Housing & Homelessness Dashboard over the past three years.  It will also provide a glimpse of what is to come, and how these planned changes could help drive Charlotte-Mecklenburg forward.

Summer Reading 2020: “Top Five” List For Learning More About Housing Instability & Homelessness

Each year, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services (CSS) releases an annual report series on housing instability and homelessness. The report series is produced by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. There are two primary output models. The first type, referred to as “integrated data” reports, links and contextualizes disparate information sources to explore the problem of housing instability and/or homelessness through a unique lens. Last month, CSS released an integrated data report describing child and youth homelessness by combining data from the Homeless Management Information System, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services.  An upcoming integrated data report will use combined information sources to describe single adult homelessness, which comprises the largest population sector of those experiencing homelessness. The second major output in the series is the annual Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness Report. This report includes local, regional, and national data on the full housing continuum. It also features data from the Point-in-Time Count; housing inventory; rental gaps; and system performance metrics. It provides a single, “go-to” document for all housing and homelessness-related data and information pertaining to Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The 2020 Report will feature new data sources, and also address the impact of COVID-19. It will be released in late September. In addition to the locally produced housing instability and homelessness outputs described above, several other housing-related reports have been released during the past year. This blog post will provide you with a “top five” reading list as of Summer 2020, including a brief overview; why you should read the report; and what each means for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Building Walls to Safeguard Failure

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall…” opens the poem Mending Wall by Robert Frost. The poem describes an annual ritual between two neighbors, brought together to patch the wall between their two fields. As they go about the work, one neighbor asks about the purpose of the wall. The other simply replies, “Good fences make good neighbors.” But…do walls, in fact, ensure good relations?  Previously, the Building Bridges blog has addressed the lack of systemic alignment in the community through the image of failure hoarded in silos.  Given the need for distancing driven by COVID-19, this post will employ the idea of a wall. Since mid-March, the Building Bridges blog has been focused on housing challenges and solutions through the lens of COVID-19. Reviewing these posts, three primary themes have emerged: Housing is healthcare; what was previously thought impossible is now considered smart and strategic; and with new private and public dollars, communities can both mitigate a new wave of COVID-related housing instability and homelessness and address the factors that drove pre-pandemic housing and homelessness issues. In particular, the post from May 13, “What Does It Mean to Go “Home” in A COVID-19 World?” underscores the fact that, while housing has always been essential to individual health, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the vital role housing plays in ensuring public health. The blog series first spotlighted the short-term interventions implemented as a crisis response to the COVID-19 pandemic that can (and should) be transformed into permanent solutions addressing the pre-existing conditions of housing instability and homelessness. Topics covered by the series include: eviction prevention; funding distribution and flexibility; shelter capacity; information sharing; evaluation and performance; conversion of hotel leases to permanent housing; and telecommunication. The blog series concluded by describing ways in which communities can use both a public health and an economic response framework to maximize COVID-19 funding.  By “stretching the dollars,” communities can prevent or reduce a new wave of housing instability and homelessness specifically related to the novel coronavirus.  Last week’s blog post covered this final impact area of the framework: strengthening systems as critical for an effective public health and economic recovery response. Strengthening systems requires cross-sector collaboration. Systems-level change can only happen through coordination across the entire service continuum, from funders to providers. Functioning as an integrated system, communities have the power to finally erect solutions to the complex, intractable issues of housing instability and homelessness. What role, then, do walls play in this work? This blog post will delve further into this question; the current state of housing instability and homelessness; and what it all means for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Public Health & Economic Recovery Response Framework: Part 5

Last week’s blog post covered parts four and five (of the six total) impact areas for communities to consider as part of a public health and economic recovery framework response to address housing instability and homelessness. These impact areas are locally extrapolated from a new tool, A Framework for COVID-19 Homelessness Response, which was released in May 2020 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 to homelessness assistance systems (like Continuums of Care or CoCs) on how to maximize new funding (whether from the CARES Act or other sources) to both respond to the immediate crisis and plan for a lengthy economic recovery using an equity lens. Communities can begin to adapt and implement this framework as part of both their near- and longer-term COVID-19 housing responses. Using the framework as a starting point, this week’s blog post takes a deeper dive into the sixth (and final) impact area: strengthening systems.

Public Health & Economic Recovery Response Framework: Part 4

Last week’s blog post covered the first three (of the six total) impact areas for communities to consider as part of a public health and economic recovery framework response to address housing instability and homelessness. These impact areas are locally extrapolated from a new tool “The Framework for an Equitable COVID-19 Homelessness Response” which was first released in May 2020 and updated this week. The tool has gained new partners and focuses on equitable decision-making. This link takes you to an important, 2-minute video about why communities should consider implementing such a framework. The framework provides guidance to communities on how to maximize funding to both respond to the immediate crisis and plan for a lengthy economic recovery using an equity lens. Communities can begin to adapt and implement this framework as part of both their near- and longer-term COVID-19 housing responses. Using the framework as a starting point, this week’s blog post takes a deeper dive into the fourth and fifth impact areas: sheltered homelessness and permanent housing.