The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Dashboard, which was launched in August 2017, serves as a one-stop-resource for housing and homelessness information for the community. The site includes data, research, and information on local initiatives. On the day of its initial release, the Housing & Homeless Dashboard was visited by 100 discrete users and had over 1,000 pageviews. Over the last two years, that number has grown to almost 13,000 individually registered users and over 100,000 pageviews. The Dashboard is now read in cities across the United States, as well as in other countries (including France, Canada, Brazil, China, Germany and Italy).
The site was always intended to be “more than a dashboard.” Therefore, the Dashboard has evolved several exciting additions; one is the Housing & Homeless Ecosystem of community organizations in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Ecosystem provides standardized definitions for housing types and interventions; identifies roles and responsibilities across the housing continuum; quantifies housing capacities; and outlines funding sources.
Another added feature is the Housing Data Snapshot, which provides a monthly update on the number of people entering and exiting homelessness in the community. In June, the Dashboard incorporated a Racial Equity Analysis Tool to better understand access to and utilization of housing systems. Other additions, updates, and improvements, some of which are highlighted in the “So, What” section below, will also be made to the Dashboard in 2020.
As always, this regular briefing – the Building Bridges Blog – provides analysis to help the community use local housing and homelessness data to drive decisions and understand impacts. As we start a new year, this blog post will cover some major topics from 2019 and discuss what those might mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg in 2020.
A LOOK BACK AT HOUSING ISSUES IN 2019
The Building Bridges Blog covered a wide swath of housing topics in 2019, ranging from community efforts like the Point-in-Time Count, to new community reports like the 2019 Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness.
As new data continues to be released, there is a consistent thread throughout: the need for more affordable housing. This is especially true for those households who earn the least – at or below 30% of Area Median Income. The 2019 Building Bridge posts below draw attention to the system solutions required to increase access to and availability of affordable housing in our community:
ALIGNING EFFORTS ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING
This three-part series provided an overview of 9 strategies that were outlined in a report from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). The report called for action alignment across the areas of homelessness, housing instability, and affordable housing. Entitled Aligning Affordable Housing Efforts with Actions to End Homelessness, the document states that, “[in] many communities conversations on housing affordability and those about homelessness are happening in different places among different groups of people.” However, the solutions for ending and preventing homelessness, and reducing housing instability, are the same: permanent, affordable housing. Importantly, a failure to address one area impacts the others: if enough affordable housing is not available, shelters cannot clear out beds for people who need them. People facing housing instability who then lose their housing have nowhere to go; families often must separate to find temporary shelter. Therefore, it makes sense that efforts focusing on homelessness, housing instability, and affordable housing work together in order to maximize individual and system results. This series of posts sought to unpack the strategies and provide context for local application.
ADOPTING A SYSTEM VIEW
The blog posts below described the need for a system view to create comprehensive and holistic solutions that address the complex and interconnected problems of housing instability and homelessness:
- How A Data Culture Can Improve Organizations And Create System Change
- Why A System View is Critical for Everyone
- Why An Ecosystem Matters to Charlotte-Mecklenburg
HOUSING SOLUTIONS & SYSTEM CHANGE
The blog posts below highlighted housing solutions that target change at the system level while also addressing specific housing needs in the community.
The assessment detailed the changes that can be made at both the provider and the system levels to both enhance capacity and more efficiently move individuals and families from homelessness to housing.
NCHousingSearch serves as a possible foundation for a comprehensive community inventory of affordable units. Information is provided on what is needed to expand the inventory.
The first community report on prevention assistance, the report provided a comprehensive look at the homelessness prevention continuum as an important catalyst within the Housing & Homelessness Ecosystem. It included six recommendations for consideration to optimize the prevention assistance system in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
The solution for homelessness and housing instability in 2020 is the same as it was in 2019: increased access to and availability of affordable housing. Housing instability and homelessness are complex problems that were not created overnight and will not be solved in the next year. However, it is possible to make real progress in 2020.
The solutions needed to address housing instability and homelessness must consider system-level thinking and an alignment of all resources across the housing continuum. In addition, housing solutions must work with regard to and in concert with other systems, like employment and healthcare, which both impact and are impacted by housing.
In 2020, the Housing & Homelessness Dashboard will continue to be “more than a dashboard.” The site will highlight important housing solutions and incorporate fresh datapoints. The Dashboard will seek to facilitate a comprehensive view of the full housing continuum. New tools and information will be added to the Housing & Homelessness Ecosystem to support the necessary work of resource alignment.
The Housing & Homelessness Dashboard is the community’s one-stop source for information, ideas, and context related to housing instability and homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and beyond. Please share this resource with any individual or organization you think may be interested; consider ways in which the Dashboard can assist you or your organization; and seek out ways to get (or get more) involved in this very important work. Thank you for your ongoing engagement and support; and for your commitment to ensuring everyone has a place to call home in 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.