In April, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Strategy (CMHHS) was launched. CMHHS is a comprehensive community-wide effort involving the public, private and non-profit sectors to develop a strategic plan to end and prevent homelessness in our community.
As co-chairs for the working group launching the new strategy, we are pleased to share that participation in this important community-driven planning process continues to grow. There are over 250 individuals and more than 115 organizations, including providers who serve on the front lines, and individuals that have lived experience with housing instability or homelessness. Participants also include representatives from the county, city, and school system; corporate and business sectors; healthcare, workforce development, childcare, transportation and other complementary sectors; non-profits; funding and faith communities; grassroots organizations; and housing developers, landlords and real estate entities.
In October 2021, we will share the results of this work: a multi-year, strategic plan to help Charlotte-Mecklenburg become a national leader in addressing current and preventing future homelessness by offering aligned strategies, unified goals, and clear funding pathways. Our shared vision is that homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring in Charlotte-Mecklenburg – where every person has access to permanent, affordable housing as well as the resources to sustain it.
This update provides information about the latest milestones achieved, next steps – including opportunities for continued engagement in the weeks ahead – and the impact on our community.
Outlined below are the significant milestones that CMHHS has achieved since the June 2021 CMHHS community update:
- “What” Workstreams Complete Draft Initiatives: One way that individuals have supported this work is by participating on at least one of the nine project workstreams, which are tasked with developing recommendations for the CMHHS strategy. Four of the workstreams comprise the “what” pillars: Strengthen Prevention System; Optimize Temporary Housing/Shelter System; Grow Permanent Affordable Housing; and Strengthen Cross-Sector Supports. Informed by data, research and peer city interviews, these workstreams have submitted draft initiatives to be reviewed by the Technical Committee and Working Group. Emerging cross-workstream themes include a focus on equity; access to and available inventory of shelter, housing, prevention resources and supportive services; alignment of systems and structures; and promoting overall system change and sustainability.
- Hosted virtual “What” Workstream Focus Groups: During July and so far in August, CMHHS Communication Workstream hosted three virtual focus groups devoted to the four “What” Workstreams. As co-chairs, we shared why this work matters to us and is critical for our community. Representatives from the “What” Workstreams presented the draft initiatives and 99 focus group participants were able to provide feedback and ask questions. The feedback collected from these focus groups will be shared with the workstreams as they refine and finalize their initiatives.
- Launched CMHHS “Myth-busting” Blog Series: The new blog series, launched in June 2021, seeks to address the myths and misconceptions that have historically and continue to prevent positive change from occurring. This includes unpacking some of the most commonly misunderstood housing and homelessness terms and concepts. Published posts have covered the topics of “Housing First;” Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (or NOAH); and the role of supportive services in the work to end and prevent homelessness. Last week’s post focused on the fourth of five common myths and misperceptions about affordable housing: “Does affordable housing mean higher crime rates?” The series is one example of how we are helping stakeholders and the community connect, invest and advance the work of CMHHS.
During the coming weeks, as we develop and refine recommendations, we will continue to reach out to the community for input through a variety of engagement activities. We are particularly focused on outlining and prioritizing system-level recommendations based upon our research and community feedback; the estimated total cost for these recommendations coupled with an overarching funding strategy to support them; and the permanent infrastructure and communication necessary that will enable a successful transition to implementation.
In addition to the “What” Workstream focus groups, we will also be hosting a “How” Workstream focus group and a community information and feedback session in August. To register for the community information and feedback session, please click this link.
To learn more about this work and how to get involved, please sign up for more information by adding your email address below. You can also visit the 2025 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Strategy webpage.
Through the work of committed volunteers and staff, we have made a great deal of progress since April 2021. In addition to finalizing the “What” Workstream initiatives, we will soon be sharing draft initiatives from the “How” Workstreams that cover the areas of unified policy advocacy; coordinated funding alignment; innovative data analytics; effective communications; and ongoing strategy support. Collectively, these “how” recommendations will create the infrastructure for propelling and sustaining the adopted “what” initiatives that address the full housing continuum.
We also remain committed to ensuring that this community effort stays true to our core values: taking a transformational approach to address need at the systemic and structural levels; and elevating the voices and priorities of individuals with lived experience to guide our work and decision-making.
Therefore, we will continue to both provide information through community updates like these as well as listen to your feedback to help us strengthen the final product. We encourage you to engage with us through one of our upcoming events. To learn more or for questions, email email@example.com.
The following lines taken from one of Robert Frost’s most famous poems perhaps best encapsulate this current moment for CMHHS, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.”
While the work of CMHHS has accomplished many milestones already, we are far from being done. Please consider joining us on this journey. By working together, we can ensure everyone in Charlotte-Mecklenburg has a place to call home.
Cathy Bessant, Chief Operations and Technology Officer at Bank of America, and Eugene A. Woods, President and CEO of Atrium Health, serve as co-chairs for the working group of the 2025 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Strategy.