Last week saw the conclusion of Evaluate Upstream, a year-long, community planning process. Evaluate Upstream intended to develop a comprehensive and sustainable prevention assistance system for Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Funded by a Continuum of Care (CoC) planning grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and launched by Mecklenburg County Community Support Services, 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 in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. “Prevention” is defined as a category of assistance that targets households “upstream” from homelessness; these individuals and families are facing housing instability but have not yet lost their housing. Applying this definition, prevention assistance exists on a continuum; assistance can be administered not only prior to the loss of housing, but even after households exit into permanent housing with the goal of helping them sustain it. Prevention includes three tiers of assistance: community-wide interventions aimed at changing systems and structures that perpetuate housing instability; cross-sector collaboration and coordination to reduce the prevalence of homelessness; and targeted interventions including financial and legal assistance to help households maintain their housing. The purpose of this blog post is to share the process and output of Evaluate Upstream, including the crafting of a blueprint for a prevention assistance system. This blog will also discuss how this work will shift from planning to implementation; and ultimately, what this can mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
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