On Thursday, September 24, 2020, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services will release the 2020 Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness (SoHIH) Report. The SoHIH report is part of the annual Housing Instability & Homelessness Report series which is funded by Mecklenburg County Community Support Services and produced by UNC Charlotte Urban Institute.
The SoHIH is an annual report that provides a single, “go-to” document for all housing and homelessness-related data and information pertaining to Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The report combines local, regional, and national data on the full housing continuum, including housing instability, homelessness, and stable (permanent, affordable) housing. The report also features data from the 2020 Point-in-Time Count; housing inventory and rental gaps information; Housing Trust Fund; and system performance metrics.
This blog post describes what is covered in the 2020 SoHIH, including what’s new, and what it could mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
WHAT’S IN THE SoHIH REPORT?
The SoHIH report is anchored by three main sections that correspond to the three components of the housing continuum: housing instability; homelessness; and permanent, affordable housing. Just as these components are linked along a continuum, so are the data. For example, the number of people who experience housing instability is a key data element that should inform efforts to address homelessness. This is because the number of people who are experiencing housing instability are at an especially high risk for losing their housing, thereby becoming homeless. Addressing inflow into homelessness (or targeting resources and strategies upstream) is important to reduce the number of people who would otherwise experience homelessness.
Below is a description of the three main sections and what is included in each:
There are multiple ways to define (and therefore) measure housing instability. The SoHIH explains the different definitions and provides examples for how it is measured with updated, local data. The components include:
- Area Median Income & Fair Market Rent (New FY20 Data)
- Housing Cost-Burden (New Census Data on Renter and Owner-occupied Households)
- Wage & Rental Affordability (2020 data from National Low Income Housing Coalition)
- Rental Mismatch (Analysis of latest Census data)
- Overcrowded Housing (Map of latest Census data in Mecklenburg County)
- Evictions (Latest eviction (VCAP) data on formal evictions in Mecklenburg County)
- Homelessness Prevention (Demand for rental assistance in response to COVID-19)
Like housing instability, there are multiple definitions for homelessness. These definitions vary by funding source or authorizing body. All definitions are included in the SoHIH, with measurement examples employing updated, local data. For the purposes of the SoHIH, households who are doubled up with family and/or friends, or staying week to week in hotels/motels, are included within the definition of homelessness. The components include:
- Coordinated Entry & NC 2-1-1 (New FY20 data)
- One Number (New FY2020 data and trends)
- System Performance Measures (New federal FY2019 data and trends)
- Point-in-Time Count (Key Facts & Local Survey Findings) (New 2020 data and trends)
- Capacity & Utilization (New 2020 data and trends)
- Student Homelessness (New 2020 McKinney Vento data)
STABLE HOUSING (PERMANENT, AFFORDABLE HOUSING)
The SoHIH recognizes that stable housing (or permanent, affordable housing) comes in multiple shapes and sizes. Permanent, affordable housing includes short- or long-term rental subsidies and/or vouchers that help bridge the gap between housing costs and what a household can afford. It also includes the physical units, themselves, which can be at market rate (and accept a rental subsidy and/or voucher); or naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH), which does not require a rental subsidy. Assistance to help households access affordable homeownership opportunities is another form of permanent, affordable housing. Here are the main components:
- Short-term rental subsidies (New 2020 data on Rapid Re-housing)
- Medium-term rental subsidies (New 2020 data on Other Permanent Housing)
- Long-term rental subsidies (New 2020 data on Permanent Supportive Housing, Housing Choice Vouchers and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH))
- Housing Trust Fund (HTF) (New 2020 data and trends on units funded through HTF )
KEY FINDINGS & CONNECTING THE DOTS
The SoHIH begins by highlighting key findings from each of the three main sections; and ends by “connecting the dots.” By summarizing data and trends, the report outlines implications for Charlotte-Mecklenburg to consider. In addition to the full report, the key findings will be available for download as individual, single-page documents. These findings will be explored in next week’s blog post.
WHAT’S NEW IN THE 2020 SoHIH REPORT?
Each year, the SoHIH features new data and/or resources to help describe, contextualize, and/or quantify components along the housing continuum. In addition to new or updated data related to the continuum, the 2020 SoHIH report also features information related to the impact of COVID-19 on both the capacity of and demand for housing related services in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
Listed below are the new components in the 2020 SoHIH report:
RESPONSE TO COVID-19
This includes the economic and housing impacts of COVID-19; need for and response to services within the three main housing continuum components; and examples of short-term interventions that could be transitioned into long-term responses to address housing instability and homelessness.
SYSTEMIC & STRUCTURAL CAUSES OF HOUSING INSTABILITY & HOMELESSNESS
There are multiple systemic and structural factors that have led to and perpetuate the problems of housing instability and homelessness. The 2020 SoHIH report describes these factors and, where possible, includes recent data to provide examples.
BARRIERS TO VOUCHER UTILIZATION
Households may have financial assistance like a Housing Choice Voucher to obtain permanent, affordable housing. However, this does not guarantee that the household will be able to access a unit, even if one is available. When a housing provider refuses to accept payment for housing from any legal form of monetary payment, including employment income, disability income, or housing subsidies, it is known as a Source of Income Discrimination (SOID). This new section provides information and analysis on Housing Choice Voucher utilization in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
The 2020 Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness Report provides a single, dedicated compilation of all the latest data on housing instability and homelessness pertaining to Charlotte-Mecklenburg. This resource can be used by all levels of stakeholders who are working to address housing instability and homelessness.
Providers can use the report to provide context for their program-level data, as well as advocate for additional resources. Elected officials can use the information to inform local funding and policy decisions to accelerate efforts to prevent and end homelessness. Funders can see the report as a means to allocate resources in alignment with the need, and target investment to focus on impacts rather than simple outputs. And anyone who is involved in media, advocacy, or simply connecting information to people can use this report as a resource to help frame the issues and/or spotlight important narratives.
To share the key findings and indicate ways to put the report to active use, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services will release a community toolkit. Stay tuned for next week’s blog that will discuss the key findings from the 2020 SoHIH report and provide links to the report and complementary material.
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.