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 participation has grown to include over 200 individuals and over 115 organizations. Participants include those 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; and housing developers, landlords and real estate entities. It was also important to us that we include providers who serve on the front lines, and individuals with lived experience with housing instability or homelessness. And, we continue to grow.
By October 1, 2021, this group will have established a five-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.
The purpose of this update is to share information about the milestones we have achieved since our launch and next steps, in addition to what this means for the people in our community.
CONNECT TO PURPOSE
We believe it is essential to connect and constantly re-connect to our purpose, which necessitates that we ground our words and actions in our “why.”
There are two core components that form the foundation of this work, and therefore, must be infused in every aspect of what we do from process to final product: 1) comprehensively address the systems and structures that cause and perpetuate housing instability and homelessness; and 2) keep front and center the people who are affected by these systems and structures, integrating the voice of individuals with lived experience.
Below are two significant milestones that CMHHS has achieved, following the launch in April:
- Evaluate Upstream Blueprint Released: Evaluate Upstream completed its year-long, community planning process in April 2021 to develop a system that can effectively help people before they experience homelessness. Evaluate Upstream had the following goals: to document existing prevention resources across Charlotte-Mecklenburg and determine whether and how they work together; to design an optimally functioning prevention network; and to develop an evaluation framework for an impactful homelessness prevention system. The culmination of this work is reflected in the Evaluate Upstream Blueprint. Evaluate Upstream also forms the prevention pillar of the 2025 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Strategy (CMHHS). The Prevention Workstream of the new CMHHS Strategy will pick up the next stage of the work: to outline the roadmap that will transform the recommendations in the Evaluate Upstream Blueprint into action, embodying both the guiding principles of the blueprint and the core values of the overall planning process.
- “What” and “How” Workstreams Launched: More than 170 individuals have signed up to participate on at least one of the nine project workstreams, which are tasked with developing recommendations for the CMHHS strategy. All individuals were invited to virtual onboarding sessions to learn more about the community effort and process leading up to this point. There are four “what” workstreams: Strengthen Prevention System (Evaluate Upstream); Optimize Temporary Housing/Shelter System; Grow Permanent Affordable Housing; and Strengthen Cross-Sector Supports. Five additional workstreams will focus on “how” the work will be accomplished: Unified Policy Advocacy; Coordinated Funding Alignment; Innovative Data Analytics; Effective Communications; and Ongoing Strategy Support. Since the strategy launch in April, workstream co-leaders paired with sponsors from the working group have been working with participants to complete charters that will outline the scope and objectives; roles and responsibilities; and deliverables to be produced. These charters will help ensure that the product and process of each workstream remains in alignment with each other and unified under our common vision.
During the coming weeks, as we develop and refine recommendations, we will be reaching 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 October.
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 follow this link to the 2025 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Strategy webpage.
We are excited by not only the number of individuals who have already signed up in some form to be part of this important work, but the variety of experiences, personal and professional, those individuals bring to the table. Some individuals have been working on this issue for years while others are new, and just want to help. Please consider supporting this work. In fact, there are multiple ways to be involved beyond serving on a workstream, from staying informed and raising awareness to serving in focus groups to provide feedback on draft recommendations. To learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As co-chairs of the working group leading this strategy, our purpose – our “why” – comes from “home.” Home is more than a structure or a basic need. Home gives us what we need to thrive. Homes provide safety and stability for adults and children. Having homes strengthens our economy and improves the health of our community. Ultimately, home – where we lay our roots, gather with our loved ones, and return for rejuvenation – helps all of us connect and re-connect to our purpose.
And, as two of the community’s largest employers – both committed to health and financial wellness of everyone who walks through our doors and outside our walls – we understand the incredible impact quality, affordable housing has on the livelihood and well-being of our growing city and county. Together, with the support and brainpower of the more than 200 individuals joining this effort, we will provide sustainable solutions to end homelessness in our community and provide everyone the opportunity to have a safe place they can truly 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.