I am excited to share, today, the release of A Home for All: Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Strategy to End and Prevent Homelessness – Part 1: Strategic Framework. This document represents the culmination of our community’s work to develop a comprehensive, transformative strategy to address both housing instability and homelessness. Cathy Bessant, Vice Chair of Global Strategy at Bank of America; and Eugene Woods, President and CEO of Atrium Health, served as the co-chairs of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Strategy (CMHHS), which is the body that produced this framework.
Launched almost one year ago, CMHHS is truly a community-wide effort. CMHHS incorporated representation from across the public and private sectors to develop a strategy that ensures that homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring in Charlotte-Mecklenburg; a strategy that is focused on providing every person access to permanent, affordable housing and the resources to sustain their housing. This is our collective vision. With the release of the framework today, we aim to make it our reality.
This brief provides highlights from the new framework and outlines next steps, including opportunities for continued engagement in the months ahead, and ultimately, the potential for permanent, positive change in Mecklenburg County.
WHAT’S IN THE STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK
The Strategic Framework contains the first part of the comprehensive strategy developed by CMHHS, including a high-level overview of recommendations across each of the following nine areas: prevention; shelter; affordable housing; cross-sector supports; policy; funding; data; communications; and long-term strategy.
These recommendations are further organized by the values that undergird them:
- Address the historical and structural inequities by employing solutions that rectify or ameliorate historic and existing disparities, with a focus on individuals and communities with the greatest barriers; and centering racial justice and equity in all strategies.
- Expand access to and availability of inventory and resources from shelter to housing, prevention, and supportive services in order to meet the demand for them in the community.
- Coordinate systems to ensure they are easy to navigate for the individuals who use them. This entails coordination and collaboration across agencies and sectors, by improving information flow; data quality; and referral networks. This also requires that we invest in systems and structures that effectively and efficiently connect individuals with the resources that are best positioned to help them.
- Change the system to sustain the long-term impact of the work enacted. Such transformation requires policy, structural, and process-related changes. This will help us foster an environment that facilitates and sustains the changes necessary; and invest in the infrastructure and oversight needed to enable both short-term and long-term impact.
In addition to the recommendations, the Strategic Framework includes information about the process that produced them. The story of our “how” is just as (if not more) important as the story of our “what,” reflecting true community input from the ground up, including the voice of individuals with lived experience of housing instability and homelessness.
The framework also incorporates input and feedback from the providers who serve on the front lines of this work; representatives from the each of our community’s public sector entities; members of the corporate business sectors, including healthcare, workforce development, childcare, transportation and other complementary sectors; non-profits; funders; faith communities; grassroots organizations; and housing developers, landlords, and real estate entities. These recommendations have been informed by research and best practices, including through directly engaging subject matter experts and community leaders from across the country. To put it another way, this is a best-practice informed, data-driven framework that has been wrapped in our local context so that it is poised for action.
WHAT’S NOT IN THE STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK
The Strategic Framework is not an itemized list of expenditures. Neither is it a detailed funding request of any body. It is also not a set of discrete, actionable initiatives. We have released the framework first, so that we can incorporate additional feedback from the community, including our elected officials, funders, providers, and the individuals who might be impacted by these recommendations into the next phase of the work: implementation planning. Action steps and funding recommendations will be released as Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Strategy to End and Prevent Homelessness – Part 2: Implementation Plan.
While specific dollar amounts are not detailed in the Strategic Framework, it is critical that the public and private sector each identify the components within the framework that can be supported in our next fiscal year. Mecklenburg County, for example, is using the framework to prioritize near-term and time-sensitive recommendations that can be funded through our regular, annual budget as well as with COVID-19 relief assistance. This will allow us to get moving while honoring the implementation planning for that work that will require additional time to formulate. Our community cannot afford to wait for the delivery of a completed plan to take action; there is work we can, and must, begin now.
Everyone affiliated with the CMHHS Working Group is grateful to Cathy and Eugene for their leadership and vision during the hard work of building this Strategic Framework and getting us to this point. In the coming weeks, Mecklenburg County will lead the effort to create the structure that will be responsible for implementing and sustaining the recommendations from the Strategic Framework. In parallel with that, the community must continue with the next phase of the CMHHS work: developing an implementation plan. Like our approach to developing the framework, this, too, will be an inclusive process, with input from our local subject matter experts serving on the A Home for All Implementation Committee.
We have also developed a toolkit to help interested parties unpack the recommendations as well as suggest tangible ways to support implementation of them. Please consider downloading and sharing the toolkit. You can also sign up to receive regular updates by entering your email below, or by visiting www.ahomeforallmeck.com. To learn more about the A Home for All Strategic Framework, provide feedback, or recommend items for consideration in the implementation plan, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mecklenburg County has been, and remains committed to, ending and preventing homelessness. During the last decade, we have made significant investments in the areas of prevention, shelter, housing, and essential health and human services necessary to help families make the math work. During the pandemic, these efforts were amplified in an attempt to ensure the safety and security of all Mecklenburg County residents. Unfortunately, housing instability and homelessness continue to grow, here and in other communities across the United States. These have negative impacts, in both the short- and long-term, on the households who have to experience it. Homelessness and housing instability also threaten the overall health and well-being of our community.
The date of this release is intentional, just as the work must be. Today is the day our community comes together to complete the annual Point-in-Time Count, a required activity to receive federal homelessness funding. The Point-in-Time Count is led by Mecklenburg County, and known locally as “EverybodyCountsCLT.” The goal of the Point-in-Time Count is to ensure that everyone experiencing literal homelessness is counted. Releasing the framework on this day serves as an important reminder for why we need solutions, now.
Housing instability and homelessness are big, complex issues. They didn’t just come on as a symptom of COVID. And, quite frankly, they won’t be solved overnight. At the same time, housing instability and homelessness won’t be eliminated just because we now have a strategic framework. It’s true that this is not the first plan in our community to be focused on ending homelessness. But we could all make sure that it is the last plan that’s ever needed. All it takes is each of us, committed to systemic change. A community engaged in dismantling the structures that have caused these problems and rebuilding a foundation that leads to scalable solutions. We all play a role in the work ahead; we must all take ownership for not only making sure everyone counts, but also making the solutions identified by the CMHHS work a reality. It will take all of us to ensure that our community can find A Home for All.
Dena Diorio is the Mecklenburg County manager. Dena also served on the Working Group and Technical Committee as well as co-chaired the Policy Workstream of the 2025 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Strategy.