Mecklenburg County Community Support Services first released the “One Number” in 2019 as part of the annual Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness Report. Since that initial release, the One Number has become the “go-to” for the count of people who are experiencing homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
The One Number is found on the Housing Data Snapshot, a hub for the latest information related to housing and homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Generated from a By-Name List within the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), the One Number captures the number of people enrolled in Emergency Shelter; Transitional Housing; Street Outreach; Rapid Re-housing (if there is no move-in date to housing yet); and Coordinated Entry inventories in HMIS.
The One Number includes both total sheltered homelessness and a portion of the individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. In addition, the One Number can be broken down by both household composition and population type; elements include single individuals, families, unaccompanied youth, veterans, and people experiencing chronic homelessness. The One Number can also be analyzed by inflow to, and outflow from, homelessness. By comparing One Number data over time (including by household composition or by inflow/outflow), the community can identify trends. Once identified, these trends can then inform interventions. To read more about how the One Number works, click here.
This week’s blog post provides the most recent One Number update; latest trends and analysis; and what this means for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
LATEST DATA & TRENDS
As of March 31, 2021, there are 3,298 individuals experiencing homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. This total includes 2,107 single individuals (of which 124 are unaccompanied youth); and 393 families (comprised of 1,247 people). Included in the total of 3,298 individuals are 259 homeless Veterans, and 600 individuals who are experiencing chronic homelessness.
To view the historical data, please click here.
Considering inflow (into homelessness) and outflow (out of homelessness), here are some noteworthy trends:
- Between February and March 2021, there was a 158 person decrease in the total number of people experiencing homelessness. It is important to note that this decrease could be due in part to data cleanup related to the 2021 Point-in-Time Count. Despite the slight decrease observed last month, there has been a 63% (or 1,273 person) increase in overall homelessness since June 2020. As context, it is important to note that, during this period and in response to COVID-19, the community’s temporary shelter capacity has increased, including through the provision of hotel rooms. This data clearly reflects the increased need for housing assistance resulting from the pandemic.
- Change in homelessness between February and March 2021 varied depending upon the type of household composition and category of homelessness. Between February and March 2021, the number of families decreased by 37; the number of single individuals increased by 12; and unaccompanied youth increased by 15. In addition, Veterans experiencing homelessness decreased by 1 individual; people experiencing chronic homelessness decreased by 7 individuals.
- According to the latest One Number data, disaggregated by race and ethnicity, individuals who identify as Black/African American continue to experience homelessness at rates much higher than their proportion of the Mecklenburg County population (76% vs. 33%) while individuals who identify as White, non-Hispanic experience homelessness at a rate much lower than their prevalence in the population (14% vs 47%). Individuals who identify as Hispanic/Latino have a prevalence of 3% in the homeless population but comprise 14% of the Mecklenburg County population; this reflects a possible underrepresentation of the number of people who identify as Hispanic/Latino experiencing homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. In addition, the average length of time to housing for individuals identifying as Black/African American was 537 days; this compares to 247 days for those who identified as White, non-Hispanic. For those who identified as Hispanic/Latino, the average length of time to housing was 157 days, versus 486 days for those who identify as Non-Hispanic/Non-Latino.
The One Number is the best snapshot available for the number of people experiencing homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. But, like all data, the One Number also has its limitations. First, the One Number is still an undercount of all people experiencing homelessness. It does not (yet) include all households experiencing homelessness through residency in hotels and/or motels; or living in “doubled up” situations with family and/or friends. Therefore, it is helpful to think of the One Number as the floor: it is the most accurate minimum count of the number of people actively experiencing homelessness in the community. As the latest One Number indicates, the minimum number of people (adults and children) experiencing homelessness (and therefore, the minimum number of housing units and/or subsidies needed right now) in Charlotte-Mecklenburg is 3,298.
The national eviction moratorium enacted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was extended to June 30, 2021. This has slowed, but not fully stopped, the inflow into homelessness. In fact, households for which this protection applies may not be aware of it. Since the start of the pandemic, almost $85 billion has been appropriated in emergency housing and homelessness assistance through the American Rescue Plan Act; the December COVID-19 relief bill; and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This includes short to medium-term rental assistance (up to 18 months) through the Emergency Rental Assistance program, as well as longer-term solutions through new Housing Choice Vouchers that prioritize households who are at risk of, or are currently experiencing, homelessness. If targeted effectively, this recent infusion of federal housing assistance can help communities like Charlotte-Mecklenburg slow or reverse these trends of continuing increases in homelessness.
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.
Mary Ann Priester is the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) System Coordinator for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Continuum of Care (CoC). She provides data quality, security, and privacy oversight for the local HMIS system and technical support and training to 25+ agencies that serve individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Mary Ann also oversees data collection for the Point-in-Time Count.