Housing & Homelessness Research Coordinator
Mecklenburg County Community Support Services
Last week’s blog, “A Home for All Strategic Framework: What’s the Cost? Part 1” explored what goes into calculating the cost to end and prevent homelessness and why coordinated funding alignment is necessary. When the Strategic Framework was released in January 2022, it did not include an itemized list of expenditures nor a big-ticket funding request of any body. This was absolutely intentional.
Funding recommendations will ultimately be offered as part of the implementation plan. However, one of the biggest topics of discussion has been, and will continue to be: “What does it cost to end and prevent homelessness?” Other relevant questions include, “Who is/will be on the hook?” “Is this a $50 million problem; a $250 million issue; more?” Is this going to be advanced as a one-time ask?” “What is the annual cost to sustain these efforts?”
This week’s blog builds upon the content from last week, sharing examples of what from other communities are expending on similar efforts; and what all of this could mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
WHAT DOES IT COST TO END AND PREVENT HOMELESSNESS IN PEER CITIES?
To help them in their work, the Coordinated Funding Alignment workstream looked at what other communities are spending to end and prevent homelessness. Both the Coordinated Funding Alignment and Ongoing Strategy workstreams reviewed the publicly reported information to explore funding levels for similar housing and homelessness recommendations in peer cities.
This information is included below with additional details and context:
Sources for data in the table include: Peer City Identification Tool (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago); CoC System Performance Measures and Annual Homelessness Assessment Reports (U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development); The 2021 Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes (National Low Income Housing Coalition)
Comparing the investments made by other communities, along with the current state of housing (need; supply; policies, etc.) in those communities, can lead to the following insights for Charlotte-Mecklenburg:
- Charlotte-Mecklenburg is not the only community facing housing instability and homelessness. It is a national issue, which necessitates commensurate federal, state, and local responses.
- Communities are combining public and private funding to address housing instability and homelessness; in addition, communities are leveraging COVID-19 funding to supplement other funding sources.
- The price tag varies in amount and duration. Some communities are spending $50M while others are spending more than $500M. Ultimately, the price tag depends upon the content of a community’s plan, which varies. Therefore, the amounts are not necessarily accurate reflections of what it should cost to end and prevent homelessness; rather, they should be viewed as simply what other communities are spending. Time will tell whether it was the right amount.
- Some communities have fared worse; some are doing better. There is not yet a clear index of the impact of investment on outcomes. Charlotte-Mecklenburg can learn from exploring what communities have done, or avoided, to try more of what appears to be working and less of what is not working; and then evaluating its performance relative to its investment.
- In addition to measuring how Charlotte-Mecklenburg performs over time, Charlotte-Mecklenburg can continue to benchmark its progress against that of other communities. This information could lead to a desire to increase or decrease goals as well as speed up or slow down time frames to achieve goals.
Peer city/community comparisons encourage communities like Charlotte-Mecklenburg to be constantly asking the question, “What else?” Until we effectively resolve housing instability and homelessness, what else must we do? What else should we do? What can we do differently? What can we do better?
The households in need, in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and elsewhere, depend on both the answers to these questions and the actions that will ensure that there really can be A Home for All.
Courtney LaCaria coordinates posts on the Building Bridges Blog. Courtney is the Housing & Homelessness Research Coordinator for Mecklenburg County Community Support Services. Courtney’s job is to connect data on housing instability, homelessness and affordable housing with stakeholders in the community so that they can use it to drive policy-making, funding allocation and programmatic change.