Entries by Courtney LaCaria

2021 Point-in-Time Count: EverybodyCountsCLT

Each year, during the final Wednesday of January, Charlotte-Mecklenburg conducts an annual Point-in-Time Count.  This is intended to capture the number of people experiencing “literal homelessness” in the community. “Literal homelessness” is defined as residing overnight in an emergency shelter, safe haven, transitional housing facility, or in an unsheltered location unfit for human habitation. The Point-in-Time (PIT) Count (and the complementary Housing Inventory Count, or HIC) is a mandated activity of all Continuums of Care (CoCs) as a condition of receiving federal homelessness assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). HUD aggregates PIT & HIC data from over 395 CoCs as part of an annual report that is submitted to the U.S. Congress to inform funding decisions. For the past three years, Charlotte-Mecklenburg has gone above and beyond the minimum HUD requirements, asking locally-generated survey questions to better inform decision-making here. The annual PIT Count, referred to here as “EverybodyCountsCLT,” has historically been supported by staff and hundreds of volunteers who go out, often in the middle of the night or in the early morning hours, to survey those individuals experiencing homelessness and to deliver donated winter weather supplies. As with many things during the past year, communities have had to make adjustments to conduct this year’s Point-in-Time Count due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help communities in their planning efforts, HUD provided guidance to, and options for, communities to submit modifications or receive waivers. This week’s blog post provides an update on the 2021 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Point-in-Time Count and what it means for the community; and ways that individuals can meaningfully support the work, even during a health crisis.

January 2021: Housing Update

It is (finally) 2021. The start of a new year, with the hope and promise of positive change. The time when we envision successful outcomes to the resolutions we just made. A time for new beginnings, a chance to start over. Yet the first days of January feel eerily like the last days of December. Has anything changed? Will anything truly change? If there are changes, how can we be sure that they are for the better, or the best? At the close of 2020, Congress passed another emergency COVID-19 relief package that provides some glimmers of hope. First, it extended the the federal eviction moratorium enacted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through January 31, 2021. Second, it included $25 billion in assistance for housing. Of that total, it is estimated that North Carolina will receive over $698 million. Third, it postponed the deadline for communities to spend the Coronavirus Relief funds provided in the initial CARES Act, from December 30, 2020 to December 31, 2021. With $70 billion owed by U.S. renters in combined back rent, utilities, and late fees as of January 2021, this measure helps communities like Charlotte-Mecklenburg both stave off the incoming wave of evictions and support the local economy. This week’s blog post covers the key provisions in the COVID-19 relief package, and what it means for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.  

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It – The Top Ten (Posts) of 2020

During 2020, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Dashboard published 52 blog posts covering an array of topics, including the Point-in-Time Count; new report releases (and what they mean for the community); and local data and trends information. Throughout the year, more than 12,000 individuals accessed the Dashboard; there were over 36,000 pageviews as a result. Two all-new series were developed in response to COVID-19, focusing on how communities like Charlotte-Mecklenburg can effectively address housing instability and homelessness during (and after) the pandemic. One of these (which includes the most-viewed blog post for 2020) covered innovative stopgap efforts that can be transformed into long-term “business-as-usual” solutions. The second pandemic-oriented series took a deeper dive into the components necessary for communities to develop a successful housing, public health, and economic recovery framework to effectively respond to COVID-19. In case you missed any of it, this final 2020 blog post is dedicated to the top ten posts (as measured by discrete views) from the year. Below are summaries; links to the “top ten” posts; and a final “so, what” for Charlotte-Mecklenburg to consider as the calendar is turned.

Hindsight is 2020: How do you “really” make a difference?

In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the winter solstice will take place at 5:02 a.m. on Monday, December 21, 2020. Also known as the “darkest day,” the winter solstice marks the shortest period of sunlight, and therefore the longest night of the year. Winter solstice rituals and celebrations have been taking place for over 12,000 years. With what some cultures believed to be the sun’s literal “rebirth,” the winter solstice provides both a time to take stock of what has transpired, and to look to a new beginning. As the days lengthen, and our community looks to emerge from the pandemic, new rays of hope start to shine. According to Moody’s Analytics, almost $70 billion is owed by U.S. renters in combined back rent, utilities, and late fees as of January 2021. Data from the latest U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey indicates that 29.6% (199,447) of adults living in households in North Carolina report that they are not current on their rent or mortgage payments; and eviction or foreclosure in the next two months is either “very” or “somewhat” likely. On a single night in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, there are at least 3,165 individuals experiencing homelessness. Indeed, the light we are starting to see first serves to illuminate the desolate landscape that 2020 has been. In recognition of endings and the possibilities of new, positive directions, this week’s blog post is dedicated to a look ahead, with a focus on what’s happening at the system level to address housing instability and homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. This post will also address, in the spirit of this time of year, specific ways that individuals can make a difference in this vital work of ending and preventing homelessness in the community. Taken one step further, how might this new beginning also be the start of “real” change, at the individual and systemic levels?

The Rent is (Past) Due: A Look Ahead to January 2021

The eviction moratorium enacted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is set to expire on December 31, 2020. While the moratorium has helped postpone evictions from occurring, it offers no protection against either back rent owed or the accumulation of legal fees. Come January 1, 2021, communities across the United States may face a tsunami of evictions, which threaten to overwhelm an already strained emergency shelter capacity. Without widescale intervention, this poses a significant economic and public health crisis. This is not new news. There has been evidence of these waves on the horizon since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, many communities, including Charlotte-Mecklenburg, have taken measures to brace for impact while also trying to reduce the surge. In addition, proposed federal changes to housing policy and funding provide a glimmer of hope for the new year. This week’s blog post will share an overview of new and prospective efforts underway in the federal government to address housing instability and homelessness; and provide an update on the latest estimates of associated costs if nothing changes by the end of the year.

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.