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 (those enrolled but not yet housed); 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.
We are excited to share that in addition to disaggregated data by race and ethnicity, we now have disaggregated data by age, beginning with data from the month of May 2021. This week’s blog post provides the most recent One Number update, including the new disaggregated data by age; latest trends and analyses; and what this means for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
ONE NUMBER TRENDS
Historical Change in One Number Population Totals
LATEST DATA & TRENDS
As of May 31, 2021, there are 3,390 individuals experiencing homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. This total includes 2,146 single individuals (of which 131 are unaccompanied youth); and 394 families (comprised of 1,296 people). Included in the total of 3,390 individuals are 243 homeless Veterans, and 541 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 April and May 2021, there was a 127 person increase in the total number of people experiencing homelessness. This is the first increase in the total observed since January 2021, with 542 individuals entering homelessness (inflow) and only 498 exiting (outflow).
- Despite the slight decreases observed between January and April 2021 (and, which was, in part, due to data clean-up related to the Point-in-Time Count), there has been a 67% (or 1,365 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; this capacity includes the provision of hotel rooms as shelter. This data clearly reflects the continued need for housing assistance resulting from the fallout of the pandemic.
- Change in homelessness between April and May 2021 varied by both type of household composition and category of homelessness. Between April and May 2021, the number of families decreased by 3; the number of single individuals increased by 71; and unaccompanied youth increased by 16. In addition, Veterans experiencing homelessness decreased by 16; and people experiencing chronic homelessness decreased by 46 individuals. Finally, the number of days it takes to exit homelessness into housing increased from 405 days to 421 days; this number has not been lower than 150 days since March 2020.
- 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 (78% 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 people who experience homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and identify as Hispanic/Latino. In addition, the average length of time to housing for individuals identifying as Black/African American was 337 days; this compares to 940 days for individuals who identified as White, non-Hispanic. For individuals who identified as Hispanic/Latino, the average length of time to housing was 6 days, versus 432 days for those who identify as Non-Hispanic/Non-Latino.
ONE NUMBER, BY AGE
Historical Change in One Number Population Totals, Disaggregated by Age
NEW DISAGGREGATED ONE NUMBER DATA ON AGE
One Number data disaggregated by age is broken down into the following categories: children (age 0 – 17); youth (age 18 – 24); adults (age 25 – 54); and older adults (age 55+). In addition, this data is presented as an overall total (with all populations); families; and single individuals. This is important because the age distributions are different for single individuals and families.
Below are key findings from May 2021 data:
- For families experiencing homelessness, 58% of the individuals are children (age 0 – 17); 8% are youth (age 18 – 24); 30% are adults (age 25 – 54); and 3% are older adults (age 55+).
- For single individuals experiencing homelessness, 6% are unaccompanied youth (age 18 – 24); 56% are adults (age 25 – 54); and 33% are older adults (age 55+).
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 3,390.
Disaggregating data by age can help communities like Charlotte-Mecklenburg identify age-specific gaps, as well as the solutions to address them. Whereas older adults comprise 23% of individuals in the Mecklenburg County population, older adults represent 33% of all single individuals experiencing homelessness. Older adults experiencing homelessness comprise an especially vulnerable population; and are likely to increase significantly in the next ten years. The 2019 report, The Emerging Crisis of Aged Homelessness: Could Housing Solutions Be Funded by Avoidance of Excess Shelter, Hospital, and Nursing Home Costs? uses data from Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles County to estimate the future needs of older adults experiencing homelessness, including the potential economic impacts on healthcare and shelter systems as well as possible housing solutions. In particular, the study found that homelessness among individuals who are aged 65 and older is likely to triple by 2030.
The national eviction moratorium enacted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was recently extended to July 31, 2021. The White House also released a Fact Sheet regarding measures to prevent homelessness and promote housing stability.
Communities are encouraged to follow the guidance, which is summarized below:
- State and Local Courts are encouraged to participate in eviction diversion. This means avoiding the cost and time of the legal process to mediate and resolve disputes. For example, Michigan’s Eviction Diversion Program provides rental assistance to landlords in exchange for allowing their tenants to remain in their homes; forgiving late fees; and reducing the debt owed by no more than 10%. The Fact Sheet also highlights that “states and localities, in partnership with their court systems, can tap two sources of Federal support for funding their eviction diversion efforts: the $350 billion Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds and billions of additional dollars available for housing stability services through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.”
- Accelerate and broaden the state and local delivery of Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program dollars. This includes enacting the promising practices of communities implementing effective rental assistance programs and utilizing the guidance released in the May 7, 2021 White House Fact Sheet. In particular, the Fact Sheet states that communities should develop partnerships with courts to actively prevent evictions and develop eviction diversion programs, and; expand coverage for families without a current rental obligation; remove language and/or cultural barriers to access assistance; and create a streamlined payment option for utility providers and large landlords with multiple tenants. To aid this course of action, the U.S. Treasury is creating a commitment letter process to help those families gain access to assistance. The Fact Sheet states that the ERA Program can help families who have lost, or are at imminent risk of losing, their housing, to get stably housed by paying for relocation assistance, prospective rent, security deposits, and temporary hotel accommodations.
- Convene a White House Summit on Eviction Prevention. The summit will include local government, judicial, legal, and community leaders from across the country to develop solutions that connect families facing eviction to legal assistance; divert evictions; and help renters and landlords access available resources.
- Leverage Government Information Channels to Reach Vulnerable Tenants and Landlords. With the latest extension, the Biden Administration implemented a whole-of-government effort to raise awareness about emergency rental assistance. This includes encouraging Departments of Social Services to share information with SNAP recipients; the Social Security Administration to share information with SSI recipients; and coordinating outreach efforts with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
According to the press release issued with the latest eviction moratorium extension, there will likely be no more eviction moratorium extensions. This means that it is critical that communities, like Charlotte-Mecklenburg, do everything possible to ensure access to assistance for households who need it, sooner rather than later. The expiration of the moratorium, without necessary supports in place, could result in a historic number of eviction proceedings and concomitant increases in inflow to homelessness. This would lead to potentially devastating impacts, not only to the individuals and families who find themselves without housing, but to the entire community.
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.
Kimberly Sanders is the Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS) Management Analyst for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Continuum of Care (CoC). She is responsible for the CoC’s reporting to HUD, and provides reporting support and training to 25+ agencies that serve individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Kimberly is also a member of the Data Advisory Committee.