Rummaging through old storage boxes, I came across a paper I worked on almost three decades ago, in the fourth grade. The paper was on homelessness, and it was actually the culmination of a whole unit devoted to the topic. I have no conscious recollection of writing it. But I believe that introduction to the topic made an imprint on me, shaping the worldview that I have today. My fourth grade teacher was organized enough to leave behind clues of what we did: we watched a video about a person named Eddie who had experienced homelessness, to see how difficult life is to survive on the streets; we heard from other speakers about how people who experience homelessness fall outside of our circular economy; we saved grocery receipts to learn firsthand how expensive food is; and we read “The Boxcar Children” to help us learn and develop empathy for peers who experience homelessness. Looking back, I’m blown away. Having been exposed to, and invited to struggle with, these complex issues at that age, how could I not both pay attention to, and want to do something about, them as an adult? As part of the new monthly series on the state of housing in the community, today’s blog consists of two primary components: a high-level summary of the latest data and trends on housing instability, homelessness, and affordable housing; and a curated list of relevant housing-related news and research from the month prior. Together, these items are intended to keep all stakeholders in the community informed about both the challenges and the solutions related to addressing the problems of housing instability and homelessness.
Last week’s blog mentioned some “ch-ch-ch-ch-changes” coming to the Building Bridges blog post, including the impending arrival of two new anchor posts. Today’s blog marks the release of the first of the two: the new “State of Housing” monthly update for Charlotte-Mecklenburg. With a new look and format, this monthly update consists of two components: a high-level summary of the latest data and trends on housing instability, homelessness, and affordable housing; and a curated list of relevant housing-related news and research from the previous month. Together, these items are intended to keep all stakeholders in the community informed about both the challenges and solutions related to addressing the problems of housing instability and homelessness. This week’s blog post describes the current state of housing in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, and what this means for the community.
Released last month, A Home for All: Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Strategy to End and Prevent Homelessness – Part 1: Strategic Framework reflects the community’s work during the past year to develop a comprehensive, transformative strategy to address both housing instability and homelessness. As the first document to be released from this effort, the Strategic Framework provides the roadmap for the work ahead. The framework serves to outline the vision and the major objectives across each of the following nine areas: prevention; shelter; affordable housing; cross-sector supports; policy; funding; data; communications; and long-term strategy. While any one area of impact and intervention can help chip away at the gaps, the real work must be done on the sum rather than the parts. At the same time, it is essential that we understand each individual part so that we can best position them to complement each other and function effectively as a system. This week’s blog is the final in a new series that seeks to unpack each of the four impact areas in the Strategic Framework aimed at addressing a part of the housing continuum: prevention; temporary housing; affordable housing; and cross-sector supports. This blog is focused on cross-sector supports, covering what they are, why they are important, what the recommendations in the Strategic Framework entail, and ultimately, what all of this could mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
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.