Mecklenburg County Community Support Services (CSS) partners with homeless services agencies in Charlotte-Mecklenburg to enter, collect, analyze, and report data on housing and homelessness in the community. As part of this work, CSS first released the Housing Data Snapshot in June 2019. Since then, the Housing Data Snapshot has been updated, expanded, and released each month. The Housing Data Snapshot now provides a regular update for the One Number; “By-Name” List; and Coordinated Entry.
This blog post highlights the latest changes and provides further analysis of the data added to the Housing Data Snapshot and what these changes mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
As of January 31, 2020, there were 3,647 individuals actively experiencing homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. This number includes 309 families (1,120 individuals within 309 households) and 2,621 single individuals. Of the 2,621 single individuals, 152 are unaccompanied youth (ages 18 – 24). The One Number, which is generated from the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), was initially published in the September 2019 release of the State of Housing Instability & Homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Report.
Between June 2019 and January 2020, the One Number has increased by 1,541 individuals. During the past thirty days, families increased by a net difference of 14 (17 individuals within 14 households); single individuals increased by a net difference of 84 single individuals. Homelessness among unaccompanied youth (ages 18 – 24) decreased by 26 individuals.
One Number data may fluctuate for various reasons. These changes reflect both environmental and systemic conditions related to the access to and sustainability of affordable housing. Variations may also be due to data quality processes. An individual is removed from the One Number by-name list (which means they are no longer considered “actively homeless”) after 90 days of inactivity in HMIS. It is also important to remember that administrative data is not static; therefore, historic data is provided to help view and track trends in One Number data over time. To access historical One Number data and trends, click this link.
In January 2020, there were 546 chronically homeless individuals who are still homeless in Mecklenburg County. This is the highest number of chronically homeless individuals recorded since April 2019. Between December and January 2020, chronic homelessness increased by 7% (or 36 individuals). During the past quarter, the average inflow is 93 individuals, whereas the average outflow is 24. Unless the outflow increases significantly (which requires new housing options) and/or inflow decreases (as a result of increased housing stability), the number of chronically homeless individuals will continue to increase.
In January 2020, there were 246 veterans who are still homeless in Mecklenburg County. While this number increased by 33 individuals from the prior month, the total number of homeless veterans is significantly less than the total number of homeless veterans first recorded in April 2019, meeting the 30% reduction goal set meeting the 30% reduction goal set by the Housing our Heroes workgroup. During the past quarter, the average inflow is 52 individuals, whereas the average outflow is 24. Unless the inflow decreases and/or outflow increases, veteran homelessness will also continue to increase.
The Housing Data Snapshot has been updated with data for the second quarter. Data for the third quarter will be updated after March 2020. In addition, a table is provided via this link to historical Coordinated Entry data.
It is important to note that while these numbers help illustrate the need for housing in the community, they do not encompass each of the households who face housing instability and homelessness. These numbers also do not include households facing homelessness who do not seek assistance through the homeless services system.
In order to effectively address housing instability and homelessness, we must understand the problem more completely. Data provides us with one tool to do this. The data helps us understand the need of and demand for housing assistance.
When used effectively, these data points can inform decision-making around housing and homelessness. Working groups dedicated to reducing inflow and increasing outflow among chronic and veteran homelessness, for example, meet regularly to brainstorm and test methods that can create positive change. It is critical that these groups continue to examine the inflow and outflow patterns in relationship to changes in programs and policies.
More housing is needed. As of the end of December, the total number of actively homeless veterans and chronically homeless individuals was 792; and the total number of all actively homeless individuals was 3,647. In addition, the average inflow numbers into homelessness for both groups further illustrate the continued housing demand. The numbers are therefore an important tool to estimate annual housing needs for planners and funders.
As always, the problems and solutions are linked and must be addressed systemically in order to have the greatest impact on the greatest number of households, in the most efficient and human ways possible.
Mary Ann Priester is the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) Administrator for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Continuum of Care (CoC). She provides data quality, security, and privacy oversight for the local HMIS system and technical support and training to 25+ agencies that serve individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Mary Ann also oversees data collection for the Point-in-Time Count.
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.