During 2020, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Dashboard published 52 blog posts covering an array of topics, including the Point-in-Time Count; new report releases (and what they mean for the community); and local data and trends information. Throughout the year, more than 12,000 individuals accessed the Dashboard; there were over 36,000 pageviews as a result.
Two all-new series were developed in response to COVID-19, focusing on how communities like Charlotte-Mecklenburg can effectively address housing instability and homelessness during (and after) the pandemic. One of these (which includes the most-viewed blog post for 2020) covered innovative stopgap efforts that can be transformed into long-term “business-as-usual” solutions. The second pandemic-oriented series took a deeper dive into the components necessary for communities to develop a successful housing, public health, and economic recovery framework to effectively respond to COVID-19.
In case you missed any of it, this final 2020 blog post is dedicated to the top ten posts (as measured by discrete views) from the year. Below are summaries; links to the “top ten” posts; and a final “so, what” for Charlotte-Mecklenburg to consider as the calendar is turned.
THE TOP TEN BLOG POSTS FROM 2020
Hindsight is (always) 20/20? It can seem that the sheer act of reflecting upon the past year is painful. Taking stock of what has come (and gone) is complicated. It may feel easier just to look ahead at the promise of a fresh start in 2021. Last week’s blog post was dedicated to progress, with a focus on what’s happening at the system level to address housing instability and homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The post also offered specific ways that individuals can make a difference in this vital work of ending and preventing homelessness in the community.
What happens if we jump ahead, with no critical assessment of our work during 2020, difficult as it may be? Margaret Wheatley, a writer and management consultant focused on systems change, states, “Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” While we may be able to move forward, we will never be able to achieve real change without also spending time taking stock. What did we do in 2020 that worked? What did we do differently that worked? Of those new, different things, what can we continue? Even if we can, should we? What do we need to stop doing now, and/or forever?
While housing instability and homelessness certainly predate the pandemic, communities across the United States have learned a particularly tough lesson: these are no longer simply a housing issue for just one person, they are a public health issue with implications for the entire community. COVID-19 has exacerbated existing disparities while also exposing the “hidden homeless.” Fortunately, it has also forced the public and private sectors into action.
To protect public health, the choice to “fix” the pre-existing conditions of housing instability and homelessness is up to each of us. To all of us. In order to get where our community wants to go, we all must take inventory of where we are. In these final hours of 2020, perhaps the most important step everyone can take is simply to pause, and to reflect. This can help lay the foundation for the community to tackle both what was already there, as well as whatever comes our way in 2021.
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.