Entries by Courtney LaCaria

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Public Health & Economic Recovery Response Framework: Part 1

In response to the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus, and anticipated increases in the number of people experiencing housing instability and homelessness, there has been a significant increase to public and private funding at local, state, and federal levels. The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act which was passed by Congress on March 27, allocated more than $12 billion to housing and homelessness resources. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, United Way of Central Carolinas and Foundation for the Carolinas launched a local fundraising effort, which has raised over $19 million locally to support efforts including homelessness and eviction prevention. Another federal stimulus bill is currently under discussion. In addition to new and additional resources, waivers have been issued to remove historic barriers; processes have been shortened or otherwise adapted to be more flexible; and communities have improvised to deal with rapidly changing environments. The Building Bridges Blog series which began on March 18 highlights some of the short-term responses that can be transformed into long-term interventions to address the pre-existing conditions of housing instability and homelessness. COVID-19 has driven home the vital role housing plays in ensuring public health. In fact, most initial strategies targeted efforts to “flatten the curve.” However, it is vital that communities plan and prepare for the days and months ahead. Last week’s blog post discussed the importance of planning; that coordination, and collaboration across multiple sectors is required; the need to integrate new ideas and strategies evaluated during the last few months; and the value of harnessing the momentum gained, with a renewed focus on system-level strategies. This week’s blog post introduces a new tool for communities like Charlotte-Mecklenburg to consider adopting and implementing for the weeks and months ahead: a public health and economic recovery framework response to address housing instability and homelessness.  The two concepts are not in competition; successful communities will be those that have addressed both, as comprehensively as possible.

Long-term Intervention: Urgency as the New Normal?

On March 18, a new Building Bridges blog series was launched to share solutions from other communities and highlight key short-term responses as a result of COVID-19 that could be transformed into long-term interventions to address the pre-existing conditions of housing instability and homelessness. The blog series has covered eviction prevention; funding distribution and flexibility; shelter capacity; information sharing; evaluation and performance; conversion of hotel leases to permanent housing; and telecommunication. In addition, the COVID-19 Hub for housing and homelessness related information was published to provide regular updates on data, news, resources and best practice information. The ideas and strategies that have been shared in this blog series were birthed in a crisis and allowed to thrive only by use of a new lens. What might have been previously considered impractical or even impossible is now seen as smart and strategic. Last week’s blog post discussed another revelation from COVID-19: housing is healthcare. While housing has always been essential to individual health, the global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has also driven home the vital role housing plays in ensuring public health. This week’s blog post marks a shift in the blog series from the realm of strategy to a blueprint for action. The final intervention, introduced below, focuses on the concept of “urgency.” The COVID-19 pandemic has provided communities with this potent tool to address housing instability and homelessness. Like “housing as healthcare,” the “urgency” of addressing housing instability and homelessness is not new; but the concept of urgency has been driven home in response to COVID-19. However, how can/will/should communities transform this short-term sense into a permanent state in which they operate?

Long-term Intervention: Telecommunication

On March 18, a new Building Bridges blog series was launched to share solutions from other communities and highlight key interventions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week’s blog post focused on how communities are exploring options to transform gains in temporary housing capacity during the response to COVID-19 into permanent housing stock following the pandemic. In response to COVID-19, organizations have pivoted to ensure that people at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness can continue to receive the supportive services they need. Supportive services can include a range of interventions such as case management; housing search assistance; budget and credit counseling; medication management; mental health and/or substance use counseling; or other therapeutic services. Generally speaking, supportive services are designed to help households obtain and sustain permanent housing; and may be needed from a few weeks to years. Coupled with rental assistance, supportive services are a critical component of the work to address housing instability and homelessness. This new Building Bridges series looks 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 how communities are continuing to provide supportive services during the response to COVID-19 and how some of these changes can be transformed into permanent solutions.

Long-term Intervention: From Hotels to Housing

On March 18, a new Building Bridges blog series was launched to share solutions from other communities and highlight key interventions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week’s blog post focused on how communities evaluate and report performance on the housing instability and homelessness services system in response to COVID-19. In response to COVID-19, communities across the United States, including Charlotte-Mecklenburg, have turned to non-congregate settings like hotels to help reduce pressures on emergency shelters; provide alternate, safe spaces in which people experiencing homelessness can isolate or quarantine; and help local businesses by filling vacancies. The degree to which communities have established partnerships with local hotels varies widely; some communities have just started the process to secure the first community hotel, whereas others have comprehensive networks statewide. The focus has understandably been on entry into non-congregate shelter; now, some communities are considering what exits from non-congregate shelter could look like. This new Building Bridges series looks 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 how communities are exploring options to transform gains in temporary housing capacity during the response to COVID-19 into permanent housing stock following the pandemic.

Long-term Intervention: Evaluation & Performance

On March 18, a new Building Bridges blog series was launched to share solutions from other communities and highlight key interventions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week’s blog post focused on how communication among and across communities has improved in response to COVID-19. That post also shared information about the launch of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hub for Housing Information related to COVID-19. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in funding from both the public and private sectors to assist those at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness to safely shelter-in-place. With the release of these new dollars is a requirement to collect and report on outcomes to gauge the efficacy of federally funded efforts. Homeless services organizations have, by virtue of implementing new protocols and procedures, started to gather new data. An example of this new information is the extent and degree of COVID-19 symptoms among people requesting housing assistance. In addition, special attention has been paid to context during this time; if there is fluctuation, this perspective will minimize sweeping generalizations when changes occur. This new Building Bridges series looks 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 how communities evaluate and report performance on the housing instability and homelessness services system in response to COVID-19.

Long-Term Intervention: Information & Communication

On March 18, a new Building Bridges blog series was launched to share solutions from other communities and highlight key interventions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week’s blog post focused on how communities have expanded shelter capacity. In addition to addressing the pre-existing issues of housing instability and homelessness, organizations are also adapting daily to the challenge of protecting the health of clients and staff. These changes are critical to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus and ensure that residents have safe, stable shelter or housing. When an outbreak of the novel coronavirus was first reported in the United States, many communities began to prepare for its spread. Initially, there was little guidance available to housing and homeless providers. On March 10, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) released one of the first national resources, a 75-minute webinar called “Infectious Disease Preparedness for Homeless Assistance Providers and Their Partners.”  In addition, communities without known COVID-19 cases looked to others actively addressing the virus to help craft their own local blueprint. As shelter-in-place orders designed to manage in-person interaction were introduced, communication also ramped up and shifted online; information could now bypass any perceived geographic and/or bureaucratic barriers. New lines of access were opened among and between all levels of providers, funders, elected officials, and others. This led to an almost daily expansion of online resources, webinars, and large-group phone conferences. To help keep up with all of the new information being disseminated, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services launches today the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hub for Housing Information related to COVID-19. This new Building Bridges series looks 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 new practices in how information has been shared and communicated in response to COVID-19.

Long-term Intervention: Expanding Shelter Capacity

On March 18, a new Building Bridges blog series was launched to share solutions from other communities and highlight key interventions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week’s blog post focused on funding distribution and flexibility; and included information from the CARES Act. In addition to addressing the pre-existing issues of housing instability and homelessness, organizations are also adapting daily to the challenge of protecting the health of clients and staff. These changes are critical to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus and ensure that residents have safe, stable shelter or housing. Communities are taking steps to ensure that people experiencing homelessness have a safe space to “shelter in place” and, if needed, isolate or quarantine. Some have delayed (or stopped altogether) sweeps of homeless encampments. The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty has released policy recommendations about housing people who are currently experiencing homelessness (including in a hotel or vehicle) for the duration of the pandemic; stopping the enforcement of laws prohibiting resting and sheltering in a public space; and issuing a moratorium on vehicle ticketing, towing, and impoundment. In addition, the governor of Connecticut issued an executive order to provide or arrange for non-congregant housing for people at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness. This new Building Bridges series looks 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 how communities have expanded shelter capacity in response to COVID-19.

Long Term Intervention: Funding Distribution & Flexibility

On March 18, a new Building Bridges blog series was launched to share solutions from other communities and highlight key interventions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week’s blog post focused on eviction prevention. In addition to addressing the pre-existing issues of housing instability and homelessness, organizations are also adapting daily to the challenge of protecting the health of clients and staff. These changes are critical to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus and ensure that residents have safe, stable shelter or housing for as long as possible. As of March 31, there have been at least 2 deaths reported among people experiencing homelessness nationwide. According to one new report released last week, over 21,000 people experiencing homelessness in the United States are predicted to need hospitalization, with as many as 3,400 likely to die as a result of COVID-19. In addition, the report estimates that an additional 400,000 beds will be needed across the country to adequately shelter and quarantine individuals experiencing homelessness. According to the report, the 12-month price tag to provide shelter and quarantine beds in alignment with new CDC guidelines is estimated at $11 billion. This new Building Bridges series looks 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 the issue of flexibility  and sustainability of funding that addresses housing instability and homelessness in response to COVID-19.

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.