Each month, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services updates the Housing Data Snapshot, a hub for the latest numbers related to housing and homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Housing Data Snapshot has three main sections: the One Number (total number of people actively experiencing homelessness); By-Name List breakdowns from the One Number for veteran and chronic homelessness (inflow, outflow and housing trends); and Coordinated Entry (total number of callers and assessments seeking housing assistance). Considered together, the Housing Data Snapshot provides the most up-to-date information on housing and homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
This week’s blog post will unpack the latest One Number data update to the Housing Data Snapshot and describe trends. A future blog post will seek to explain these trends and what they could mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
WHAT IS THE ONE NUMBER?
In many ways, the One Number is a like a monthly “Point-in-Time Count.” Like the Point-in-Time Count, the One Number captures the number of people (sheltered and unsheltered) experiencing homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. But the One Number offers so much more: whereas the Point-in-Time Count is limited to who is counted and conducted solely on one night, the One Number is generated from a By-Name List from the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). The Point-in-Time Count is revised once per year; the One Number is updated monthly. In fact, when an individual is no longer actively involved in the homeless services system for more than 90 days, the individual is removed from the By-Name List. Upon a return for assistance, the individual is added again. In addition, the One Number can be broken down by both household composition and population type (single individuals, families, and unaccompanied youth; veterans; and people experiencing chronic homelessness). The One Number can also be analyzed by inflow and outflow, to and from homelessness. Comparing months of One Number data (including by household composition and by inflow/outflow) enables the community to identify trends, which can then inform interventions.
WHAT IS THE LATEST ONE NUMBER DATA?
WHAT ARE THE KEY TAKEAWAYS?
- Since February 2020, the total number of people experiencing homelessness has decreased by 27% (1,008 people). However, most of this decrease was due to data cleanup, and does not reflect exits to permanent housing. To account for variations between January 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020, the median number of people experiencing homelessness can be used; this number was 3,172.
- Since August 2019, inflow has continued to outpace outflow, meaning that there are more people entering homelessness than exiting homelessness. In July 2020, 479 people entered homelessness and only 142 exited. Of the total inflow, 78% (or, 372 people) were experiencing homelessness for the first time.
By Population Type & Household Composition
- Families: Since February 2020, the number of families experiencing homelessness has decreased 15% (48 households). However, inflow continues to outpace outflow: in July 2020, the total inflow was 93 households (69 were new households entering homelessness; 17 were households returning from permanent housing; and 7 were households returning from inactive status. Only 41 households exited homelessness, and of that total only 32 households exited to permanent housing.
- Single Individuals: Since February 2020, the number of single individuals experiencing homelessness has decreased by 35% (965 households). However, inflow continues to outpace outflow: in July 2020, the total inflow was 207 households (166 were new households entering homelessness; 31 households were returning from permanent housing; and 10 households were returning from inactive status. Only 82 households exited homelessness; of that total, 62 households exited to permanent housing.
- Unaccompanied Youth: Since February 2020, the number of unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness has decreased 35% (62 youth). However, inflow continues to outpace outflow: in July 2020, the total inflow was 27 youth (25 were new youth entering homelessness; 1 youth returned from permanent housing; and 1 youth returned from inactive status. Only 12 youth exited homelessness, and of that total, only 7 youth exited to permanent housing.
- Chronic Homelessness: Since February 2020, the number of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness has decreased by 24% (138 individuals). However, inflow continues to outpace outflow: in July 2020, the total inflow was 72 individuals (50 were new individuals entered chronic homelessness; 19 individuals returned from permanent housing; and 3 individuals returned from inactive status. Only 66 households exited homelessness, and only 20 of those 66 households exited to permanent housing.
- Veteran Homelessness: Since February 2020, the number of veterans experiencing homelessness has decreased 20% (49 veterans). The gap between inflow and outflow has narrowed; however, overall, inflow continues to outpace outflow: in July 2020, the total inflow was 21 veterans (18 were new veterans entering homelessness; 2 veterans returned from permanent housing; and 1 veteran returned from inactive status. Outflow matched inflow in July with 21 veterans exiting homelessness; of that total, 13 veterans exited to permanent housing.
To decrease (and end) homelessness requires that communities like Charlotte-Mecklenburg both reduce or stop inflow into homelessness and increase the outflow of households from homelessness to permanent housing.
Reducing inflow requires interventions that focus upstream, like prevention assistance. Prevention assistance includes system-wide solutions to drive policy changes; it also encompasses direct assistance, like help with rent or utilities, or critical home repair.
Increasing outflow primarily requires the availability of more permanent, affordable housing. Permanent affordable housing includes measures like rental subsidies to make more units affordable, and preservation of already existing, naturally affordable housing units. In July, there were 485 new people entering homelessness, resulting in 2,782 households in need of permanent, affordable housing right now.
According to System Performance Measure data for Charlotte-Mecklenburg, only 13% of all people who exit from a permanent housing program (like Rapid Re-housing and Permanent Supportive Housing) return to homelessness within 2 years. In this way, permanent housing is also prevention. Permanent housing that is affordable reduces housing instability and ends homelessness.
In two weeks, the blog will take this data one step further; it will provide additional analysis and explanation about these trends and their potential impacts on Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
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.