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, and has continued to update this data regularly.
The Housing Data Snapshot includes information on the One Number, a system-wide, by-name list for all individuals actively experiencing homelessness; and Coordinated Entry data on the number of individuals requesting housing assistance. Because the One Number is updated monthly, it is the best, most current data point for homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
We are excited to announce the release of new features to the Housing Data Snapshot. These are intended to help interested stakeholders take a deeper dive into homelessness and housing trends. These features include inflow and outflow charts, as well as downloadable tables for all historical data.
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.
INFLOW & OUTFLOW
Three new charts (images below) have been added to the One Number historical data page to depict inflow and outflow data. Inflow (or entries into homelessness) is comprised of three categories: newly identified, returned from permanent housing, or returned from inactive status. Outflow (or exits from homelessness) consists of two sub-categories: exits to permanent housing, and those instances in which an individual may or may not be able to be located, and therefore has been moved to an inactive status.
The first chart provides a high-level overview of inflow and outflow data from August 2019 to June 2020. The second two charts offer a more in-depth look at inflow and and outflow by sub-category.
In addition, a link is provided to download a table of all the historical inflow and outflow data available. The table includes additional detail, including breakdowns by families, single individuals, and unaccompanied youth.
All historical chronic and veteran inflow and outflow data is also available for download in table format via this link.
As of June 30, 2020, there are 3,111 individuals actively experiencing homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. This number includes 309 families (1,096 individuals within 309 households) and 2,049 single individuals. Of the 2,049 single individuals, 125 are unaccompanied youth (ages 18 – 24). The average time it takes for individuals actively experiencing homelessness to move to permanent housing is 176 days.
Between June 2019 and June 2020, the One Number has increased by 1,005 individuals (or an average of 77 new individuals actively experiencing homelessness) each month.
It is important to note that while these numbers help illustrate the need for housing in the community, they do not encompass all the households facing housing instability and homelessness. For example, this count does not include households facing homelessness who do not seek assistance through the homeless services system.
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 scope of need for housing assistance.
When used effectively, these data points can (and should) inform decision-making around housing and homelessness. Historical inflow data indicates that most individuals entering homelessness are “newly identified,” which underscores the connection between housing instability and homelessness. Comparatively, the group of individuals that return to homelessness is much smaller. It is critical that inflow and outflow data and trends be examined in relationship to necessary changes in funding, programs, and policies.
More housing is needed. Inflow into homelessness continues to outpace outflow into permanent housing for all types of households. At minimum, the continued growth of the One Number illustrates the fact that there is not enough housing to meet demand. Affordable, permanent housing can include units that are naturally affordable to low-income households well as housing subsidies that help make market rate units affordable. These numbers are therefore an important tool to estimate annual housing needs for planners and funders.
As always, the problems and solutions are linked. These must be addressed systemically to have the greatest impact on the greatest number of households, in the most efficient and humane ways possible.
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.