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” number 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 February 28, 2021, there are 3,456 individuals experiencing homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. This total includes 2,095 single individuals (of which 109 are unaccompanied youth); and 430 families (comprised of 1,408 people). Included in the total of 3,456 individuals are 260 homeless Veterans, and 607 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 January and February 2021, there was a 434 person increase in the total number of people experiencing homelessness. With the exception of a 19% (493 person) uptick between November and December 2020, this increase in homelessness marks the highest monthly rate since the trend toward growing homelessness began in June 2020. Since June 2020, there has been a 71% (or 1,431 person) increase in overall homelessness. 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 as a result of the pandemic.
- In addition to an overall increase in homelessness, homelessness increased for all types of household composition and categories. Between January and February 2021, the number of families increased by 67; the number of single individuals increased by 265; and unaccompanied youth increased by 23. In addition, Veterans experiencing homelessness increased by 6 individuals; people experiencing chronic homelessness increased by 78 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. 31%) while Whites experience homelessness at a rate much lower than their prevalence in the population (13% vs 47%). Asian individuals have a prevalence of 1% in the homeless population but comprise 6% in the overall population of Mecklenburg County. Individuals who identify as Hispanic/Latino have a prevalence of 3% in the homeless population but comprise 13% of the Mecklenburg County population. In addition, the average length of time to housing for individuals identifying as Black/African American was 175 days; this compares to 368 days for those who identified as White; and 809 days for those who identified as Asian. For those who identified as Hispanic/Latino, the average length of time to housing was 734 days, versus 194 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 3,456.
The national eviction moratorium enacted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was extended to March 31, 2021. This has slowed, but not fully stopped, the inflow into homelessness. The American Rescue Plan enacted on March 11, 2021 appropriated approximately $50B in housing-related assistance for lower-income households facing housing instability or currently experiencing homelessness. This includes short to medium-term rental assistance (up to 18 months) through the Emergency Rental Assistance program, as well as long-term solutions through new Housing Choice Vouchers that prioritize households who are at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness. If targeted effectively, this recent infusion of federal housing assistance can help communities like Charlotte-Mecklenburg slow or reverse these 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.