Entries by Courtney LaCaria

The Longest Night of the Year

Today, December 21, marks the first day of winter. At about 11am today, the Winter Solstice will occur with the Sun reaching its highest position in the sky. This means for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, tonight will be the longest night of the year. For the last thirty years, December 21 has also been recognized as the National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, when communities remember each of the individuals who have died while experiencing homelessness in the year that is drawing to a close. Remembering the issue of homelessness, and more specifically, where people experiencing homelessness will sleep on this long, dark night, provides a somber reminder about the sheer lack of affordable housing for everyone. Although the day itself will be darker than any other, the significance of today need not be consumed by the darkness. The term “solstice” is derived from the Latin words “sol,” which means “the sun,” and “sistere” which means “to make stand.” Literally, this is translated as “the sun stands still.” The winter solstice becomes a time to make use of the sun’s “standing energy,” taking stock of what has transpired and contemplating new beginnings. Winter solstice rituals and celebrations have been taking place for over 12,000 years. In fact, some cultures believed this day to be the sun’s literal “rebirth.” To commemorate this year’s winter solstice and the opportunity for new rays of hope to shine in 2022, this week’s blog post will spotlight three examples from other communities who are trying different approaches to address housing instability and homelessness; and ultimately, what this could mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

2022 Point-in-Time Count: #EVERYBODYCOUNTSCLT

Each year, during the final Wednesday of January, Charlotte-Mecklenburg conducts an annual Point-in-Time Count. This action 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 (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 are required annually of communities (like Charlotte-Mecklenburg) who receive federal funding to prevent and end homelessness. 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. In response to COVID-19, communities have had to make adjustments in the conduct of the Point-in-Time Count. To help communities in their planning efforts, HUD has provided guidance to, and options for, communities to complete PIT counts safely and accurately. This blog post will provide an overview of the PIT and HIC, including updates for the 2022 PIT and HIC; ways that individuals can meaningfully support the work, even during a health crisis; and how the PIT and HIC can be used to support efforts to address housing instability and homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

One Number Update: Disaggregated Data by Gender

Mecklenburg County Community Support Services first released the “One Number” in 2019 as part of the annual Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness Report. Since that initial release, the One Number has become the “go-to” for the count of people who are experiencing homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The One Number is found on the Housing Data Snapshot, a hub for the latest information related to housing and homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Generated from a By-Name List within the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), the One Number captures the number of people enrolled in Emergency Shelter; Transitional Housing; Street Outreach; Permanent Housing (if there is no move-in date to housing yet); and Coordinated Entry projects in HMIS. The One Number includes both sheltered homelessness and a portion of the individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. In addition, the One Number can be broken down by both household composition and population type; elements include single individuals, families, unaccompanied youth, veterans, and people experiencing chronic homelessness.  The One Number can also be analyzed by inflow to, and outflow from, homelessness. By comparing One Number data over time (including by household composition or by inflow/outflow), the community can identify trends.  Once identified, these trends can then inform interventions. To read more about how the One Number works, click here. We are excited to share that, thanks to the work of the HMIS Team from Mecklenburg County Community Support Services, in addition to disaggregated data by race, ethnicity and age, we now have disaggregated data by gender, beginning with data from the month of September 2021. This week’s blog post provides an overview of the most recent One Number update, including the new disaggregated data by gender; latest trends and analyses; and what this means for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Housing & Homelessness Continuum Data Update: December 2021

In August, the Building Bridges Blog launched a new, monthly data update. This effort, called the Housing & Homelessness Continuum Data Update, is intended to move the community from a focus on the One Number to a more comprehensive data set. This new update will attempt to cover the full housing continuum, from housing instability to homelessness. Even with the progress made to enumerate homelessness using the One Number (which includes sheltered and a portion of unsheltered homelessness), there are still many households who experience housing instability and homelessness and who are not yet captured. It is critical to identify the households “in the gap” to both understand the need for services and to construct effective solutions to address these needs. This approach is also an important outcome of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Strategy (CMHHS): identifying and closing the remaining gaps in data collection and reporting across the full housing continuum. To that end, this week’s blog will use the new data to provide an update on the current state from a demand-side viewpoint: the number and characteristics of people experiencing housing instability and homelessness. This blog will also highlight the data gaps that exist and the work underway to address those gaps.

The 2021 SoHIH Report: Deep Dive, Part 3A: Exposing a (new?) form of homelessness

In October, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services released the 2021 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. It is anchored by the three main components of the housing continuum: housing instability; homelessness; and permanent, affordable (or stable) housing. As the report is designed to make information easily accessible, there are also complementary materials available; these will help connect the data with stakeholders. These resources include the Key Findings Handouts, Report Toolkit, and Housing Data Factsheet. The blog post from October 14 shared three key themes from the 2021 SoHIH report; and blog posts from October 21 and November 4 unpacked the first and second themes. This blog post will take a deeper dive into part of the third theme, regarding how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed housing problems that were hidden prior to the pandemic; and ultimately, what this means for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

The 2021 SoHIH Report: Deep Dive, Part 2: Disproportionate Impact on Minority & Low-Income Households

In October, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services released the 2021 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. It is anchored by the three main components of the housing continuum: housing instability; homelessness; and permanent, affordable (or stable) housing. As the report is designed to make information easily accessible, there are also helpful complementary materials available; these will help connect the data with stakeholders. These resources include the Key Findings Handouts, Report Toolkit, and Housing Data Factsheet. The blog post from October 14 shared three key themes from the 2021 SoHIH report and the blog post from October 21 unpacked the first them around the need for more permanent, affordable housing. This blog post will take a deeper dive into the second theme regarding how COVID-19 has exacerbated the pre-existing problems of homelessness and housing instability, disproportionately impacting minority and low-income households; and ultimately, what this means for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

The 2021 SoHIH Report: Deep Dive, Part 1 Access to and availability of permanent, affordable housing

Last week, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services released the 2021 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. It is anchored by the three main components of the housing continuum: housing instability; homelessness; and permanent, affordable (or stable) housing. As the report is designed to make information easily accessible, there are also helpful complementary materials available; these will help connect the data with stakeholders. These resources include the Key Findings Handouts, Report Toolkit, and Housing Data Factsheet. Last week’s blog shared three key themes from the 2021 SoHIH report. This blog post will take a deeper dive into the theme regarding the growing need for more permanent, affordable housing and what this means for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

2021 State of Housing Instability & Homelessness Report Released Today

Mecklenburg County Community Support Services releases today (October 14, 2021) the 2021 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 2021 SoHIH provides a single, dedicated compilation of all the latest data on housing instability and homelessness pertaining to Charlotte-Mecklenburg. This resource can be used by any and all stakeholders working to address housing instability and homelessness. The annual report combines local, regional, and national data on the full housing continuum (from housing instability to homelessness), and stable (permanent, affordable) housing. The report features data from the 2021 Point-in-Time Count; housing inventory and rental gaps; Housing Trust Fund; and system performance metrics. This blog post outlines the key findings from the 2021 SoHIH and what it could mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

The Upcoming Release of the 2021 State of Housing Instability & Homelessness Report: What’s New in this Year’s Report

On Thursday, October 14, 2021 Mecklenburg County Community Support Services will release the 2021 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 report 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 2021 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 2021 SoHIH report, including what’s new, and what it could mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Housing & Homelessness Myths Busted: Housing & Homelessness are linked

In June, the Building Bridges blog launched a new series devoted to unpacking some of the most misunderstood housing and homelessness terms and concepts. Earlier posts in the series covered the topics of “Housing First;” Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (or NOAH); the role of supportive services in the work to end and prevent homelessness; and most recently, a series on the common myths and misperceptions about affordable housing, including a post on deeply affordable housing. These posts are inspired by the 2025 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Strategy (CMHHS), which was launched in April 2021 to stakeholders and the community connect, invest and advance the work of CMHHS.  The 2025 CMHHS represents the first time that the public and private sectors have come together to comprehensively address the entire housing continuum, from housing instability to homelessness, in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Advancing widescale solutions – even the ones backed by research and data – also means overcoming obstacles that have historically gotten in the way. Some obstacles take the shape of myths or misconceptions. This week’s post, which will close out this iteration of the myth-busting series, focuses on the link between homelessness and housing; how (and why) the two tend to be decoupled; and ultimately, what all of this means for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.