The Housing First model is widely recognized as an effective and compassionate approach to addressing homelessness. It is an evidence-based model that has been shown to be successful in helping individuals achieve housing stability, improve their overall well-being, and reduce public costs associated with emergency services and institutional care. By recognizing housing as a fundamental right and addressing homelessness as a housing issue first, Housing First aims to create a solid foundation for individuals to achieve long-term stability.

In early April, the Mecklenburg County Community Support Services Housing Innovation and Stabilization Services team, in collaboration with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Continuum of Care, organized a two-day Housing First training led by Pathways to Housing PA. The training brought together over 100 local homeless services providers to develop a deeper understanding of the Housing First model and served as the kickoff event for a 12-week community training from Housing First University.

This blog provides an overview of the Housing First model, the training being provided by Housing First University, and the expected impact for people experiencing homelessness and the greater Charlotte-Mecklenburg community.

The annual HUD Point-in-Time (PIT) count is a comprehensive effort conducted across the United States to gather data on homelessness. It consists of two components: the Sheltered Homeless Census which quantifies the number of individuals who were in an emergency shelter, safe haven, or transitional housing on the night of the PIT and the Unsheltered Homeless Census.

A future blog post will present data from the 2023 Sheltered Homeless Census.

This blog focuses on the 2023 Unsheltered Homeless Census, the state of unsheltered homelessness locally and nationally, strategic outreach, and the work underway to address unsheltered homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Today, May 4th, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services released the Homelessness Among the Incarcerated Population Integrated Data Report, authored by the Charlotte Urban Institute. This report examines the rate of and risk factors for homelessness among those experiencing incarceration in Mecklenburg County detention centers. This report is part of the Housing Instability & Homelessness Integrated Data Report Series.

This year’s Integrated Data Report looks different from prior years. The report is shorter and focused on the findings, but links readers to a methodology brief where they can learn more about how the study was conducted. This new format is intended to make the findings and implications of the study more accessible to the public. This blog post outlines the key findings from the report and what it means for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Welcome back to the Building Bridges blog. During the past few months amidst submitting the 2022 HUD System Performance Measures, publishing the 2022 State of Housing Instability & Homelessness Report, and conducting the 2023 Point-In-Count, we have spent time reevaluating how this blog can best serve the community. The mission of the blog remains the same: highlight the important work being done in Charlotte-Mecklenburg in relation to housing instability, homelessness, and affordable housing; and connect local, regional, and national data, research, policy, and practice so that all stakeholders in the community can use it to drive advocacy, policymaking, funding allocation, and programmatic change.

Today, February 23, 2023 Mecklenburg County Community Support Services  released the 2022 State of Housing Instability & Homelessness (SoHIH) Report. The annual SoHIH report synthesizes, analyzes, and shares local, state, and national data with the community for stakeholders. It serves as the foundation Charlotte-Mecklenburg utilizes to better understand gaps and inform policy and funding decisions and solutions.  This year is the first year in which Mecklenburg County Community Support Services’ Housing Innovation and Stabilization Services Division (HISS) fully authored the report. UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute has provided consultation during this transition in order to maintain the intention and integrity of this report.  Going forward, the SOHIH will build on the success of previous reports produced by UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute and will continue to provide data on the full housing continuum to the community.

This blog post outlines the key findings from the 2022 SoHIH and what it could mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

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.