The planning activities for the 2020 Point-in-Time Count are underway. To read the kick-off blog about the 2020 Point-in-Time Count, click here. The Point-in-Time Count is more than a funding requirement; it serves as an important reminder that, behind every data point, is a person who matters. In 2018, Charlotte-Mecklenburg branded our Point-in-Time Count as Everybody Counts Charlotte to call attention to both: we must ensure that everyone is counted, because each individual counts. By enumerating the problem of homelessness, the Point-in-Time Count activities is also a call for action.
The lack of affordable housing contributes to both housing instability and homelessness. In Mecklenburg County, there is a 27,022-unit gap for households at or below 30% of Area Median Income. Available housing that is affordable is the primary solution to reducing housing instability and ending homelessness.
This year’s Point-in-Time Count will also spotlight solutions because, just as Everybody Counts, Housing Counts. This blog post shares new context about housing frames: the ways we frame solutions can influence the effectiveness of those solutions.
Frameworks Institute is a nonprofit think-tank dedicated to the advancement of social and scientific issues through multi-disciplinary, framing research. Since 1999, Frameworks has driven social change in the areas of early childhood development; aging; climate and ocean disruption; and other public health issues.
In collaboration with communications scholars and practitioners, Frameworks Institute created an approach they named “Strategic Frame Analysis.” Through this approach, Frameworks has “identified and enumerated a set of elements that convey meaning and affect the way that people respond to an issue.” Through research, Frameworks can analyze what works (and what doesn’t), both in how we frame current issues and to recommend alternative framing to produce positive change.
TOWARD AN EFFECTIVE HOUSING FRAME
Frameworks has tackled the topic of housing, developing several toolkits and briefs to advance solutions. To mark its 20th anniversary, Frameworks also created a limited podcast series called “Frame[s] of Mind” to highlight various staff, scholars, and leaders in the nonprofit sector and their perspectives on “how” we frame social issues to effect change. The third and newest episode is called “How Can Affordable Housing Be Elevated as a Social Justice Issue” and is about framing issues related to housing.
To listen, click here. Below are specific areas covered by this podcast:
- Personal understandings of “affordable housing” impact change efforts
- Shifting the frame from “housing as commodity” to “housing as social justice issue”
- Building collective responsibility by raising awareness of the policies that have led to racial and economic segregation
- Sharing research which indicates the need to frame the problem as “housing cost” and discuss “opportunity” within structural and policy frameworks.
As we work to advance affordable housing solutions, it is critical that we also pay attention to how we frame both the problem and our efforts to solve it. In particular, the research of the Frameworks Institute recommends re-framing our housing conversations to discuss “cost” rather than “affordability.” This new frame positions housing as the problem rather than as a failing of an individual. It also directs the focus of solutions to the structural and policy levels. For example, we should call attention to the high cost of housing, what contributes to it, and how cost prevents some from accessing housing rather than focusing on what it takes for a household to afford housing. This is a simple but important change that we can all make as we work to advance housing solutions: Housing Costs; Housing Counts.
Here’s how you can support the work of Everybody Counts: Housing Counts:
- Plan. There are two planning meetings scheduled: December 12 (10-11:30am) and January 14 (1:30-3pm). Both will be held at Valerie C. Woodard (3205 Freedom Drive) in the Conference Center (Rooms 4014/4015).
- Volunteer. You can sign up to complete surveys with people experiencing homelessness during the count. The sign up will open on December 23, 2019.
- Donate. You can donate winter weather items including tents, tarps, gloves, and bottled water; or collect and assemble toiletry kits that will distributed to households sleeping outside on the streets.
- Raise Awareness. You can download toolkits to discuss issues and promote solutions related to housing and homelessness with your family, friends, and colleagues as well as specialized, age-appropriate toolkits to discuss the issues with your children.
Additional information will continue to be shared through www.EverybodyCountsCLT.org. Thank you, in advance, for your participation in this important event.
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.