In February, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) released a new tool for Continuums of Care (CoCs): CoC Performance Profile Reports. The reports include information from FY14 to FY18 for all Continuums of Care; and also compile data from the Point-in-Time Count (PIT), Housing Inventory Count (HIC), system performance measures, and CoC Program Competition funding allocations. CoCs can view this information at the CoC-level, state-level, or federal level. This blog post provides an overview of the new report and how it can be used in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
ESSENTIAL COC DATA IN ONE PLACE
The CoC Performance Profile condenses into 3 pages the essential Continuum of Care data using a combination of charts and tables. A CoC can view changes over time in the Housing Inventory Count (temporary housing and permanent housing capacity) and Point-in-Count (one-night census of people sleeping in emergency shelter, transitional housing, or outside in unsheltered locations). The second page contains a dashboard of three system performance measures (length of time homeless, returns to homelessness, and exits to permanent housing) and the proportion of Housing First projects in the CoC. Housing First is defined as an approach that prioritizes rapid placement and stabilization in permanent housing and does not have service participation requirements or preconditions (such as sobriety or a minimum income threshold). The final page provides a table with all the information from the profile as well as CoC and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funding awards. Additional information on populations and housing inventory type are also provided.
ABILITY TO COMPARE ONE COC TO ANOTHER; STATE AND FEDERAL LEVELS
HUD has published all CoC Performance Data with the ability to filter at the individual CoC level, statewide level, or federal level. A Continuum of Care can compare performance data with other CoCs that might be similar in makeup or geographically nearby. A CoC can also look to statewide and federal data for additional context. For example, using data in the CoC Performance Profile Report, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg CoC experienced a 17% (346 person) decrease in people experiencing homelessness on the night of the Point-in-Time Count between FY14 and FY18. During this same time period, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg CoC decreased the number of emergency shelter and transitional housing beds by 21% (353 beds) and increased permanent housing capacity by 19% (370 beds). This trend is consistent with the growing number of exits to permanent housing, which has increased from 37% of all exits in FY15 to 70% in FY18. However, the average length of time people remain homeless has increased by 14 days (104 days in FY15 to 118 days in FY18), which is an indicator that there is still not enough permanent housing to keep up with demand.
Compared with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg CoC, North Carolina experienced a 19% (2,223 person) decrease in people experiencing homelessness on the night of the Point-in-Time Count between FY14 and FY18. During this same time period, North Carolina decreased the number of emergency shelter and transitional housing beds by 18% (1,761 beds) and increased permanent housing capacity by 26% (1,920 beds). Like the trend seen in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg CoC, North Carolina has a growing, albeit smaller, number of exits to permanent housing, increasing from 39% of all exits in FY15 to 47% in FY18.
In addition, HUD has published funding allocations for the Continuum of Care (CoC) and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) programs. CoC funding may be used for projects under five program components: permanent housing, transitional housing, supportive services only, HMIS, and homelessness prevention. ESG funding may be used for street outreach, emergency shelter, homelessness prevention, rapid re-housing, and the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). In FY18, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg CoC received a combined total of $4,572,172 in CoC and ESG funding. This represents a 13% increase ($546,345) from FY14. At the federal level, there was an 18% increase ($379,351,297) in CoC and ESG funding from FY14 to FY18.
Communities can use the CoC Performance Profile Report to understand the relationship between trends in homelessness and resource allocation. By comparing changes over time in the Housing Inventory Count, Point-in-Time Count, and system performance measures with CoC and ESG funding allocations, communities can quickly see at a high level what is working and what is not. In addition, communities can identify areas for further exploration. For example, an increase in the average length of time individuals remain homeless could be due to multiple factors, such as an increase in shelter capacity; increase in inflow as a result of more households experiencing housing instability; and/or decrease in outflow with fewer permanent housing options. Communities can look to their CoC and ESG funding allocations to determine if the existing funding categories align with the community needs reflected in the data.
Organizations can also use the CoC Performance Profile Report to complete reports for grants as well as recruit new funding sources. Organizations can use the table of information on page 3 of the CoC Performance Profile Report to describe homelessness over time in the community, including by population type: sheltered versus unsheltered homelessness; veterans; chronic homelessness; families; and youth. Organizations can also use the system performance measures to demonstrate the need for additional resources. For example, the CoC Performance Profile Report indicates that the average length of time homelessness is increasing in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg CoC. This underscores the need for interventions to reduce inflow into homelessness; increase outflow into permanent housing; create flexibility within the emergency shelter system; and prioritize existing shelter capacity for those individuals and families who need it most.
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.