“Housing First Charlotte-Mecklenburg: Ending Chronic Homelessness in 2016”January 6, 2015 10:52 am
A partnership of more than two dozen public, private, nonprofit, houses of worship and higher education organizations have announced a bold undertaking to end chronic homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg by the end of 2016. The group’s mission is to mobilize the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community to place the 450 men and women who meet the definition of “chronically homeless1” in our community in permanent supportive housing by Dec. 31, 2016.
“While our community strives to end all homelessness, there are several reasons to focus on ending chronic homelessness,” said Dale Mullennix, executive director of Urban Ministry Center and project manager of the initiative. “We know the chronically homeless are the most likely to die on our streets. And research shows that while the chronically homeless make up only about 10 percent of the overall homeless population, they utilize 50 percent of the homeless resources. This is not only the action of a compassionate community; it helps us use limited resources wisely.”
The plan from “Housing First Charlotte-Mecklenburg: Ending Chronic Homelessness in 2016” has seven major components. They include:
1) Creating a registry and monitoring progress
2) Expanding outreach efforts to build trust and move the chronically homeless to housing
3) Creating new permanent supportive housing units including at least one single site building
4) Training organizations and staff in the Housing First2 model
5) Engaging the community to be part of the solution
6) Ensure adequate leadership
7) Evaluating the effort
Funding for this effort will require broad commitment and investment from a variety of sources including corporate, private, faith and public.
“Addressing and solving chronic homelessness will need the support and coordination of the public, private and nonprofit sector,” said Charles Bowman, North Carolina and Charlotte president for Bank of America. “This initiative is vital to the health of our city because it will increase understanding of the issue and provide a long-term solution for those in need of stable housing, and ultimately a path forward to financial stability.”
This unprecedented effort, with such wide-ranging partnerships, creative funding, measurable goals and a specific timeline, is unique. If, as we anticipate, we are successful, this initiative will create a new model for addressing chronic homelessness in our urban centers.
“This is an opportunity for Charlotte to lead by example,” said Mayor Dan Clodfelter. “We have several agencies in the community that are working to address the issue of chronic homelessness, but ‘Housing First Charlotte-Mecklenburg’ represents a strategic and coordinated effort, bringing together the right people and resources to make a lasting impact.”
Mecklenburg County is providing most of the supportive services necessary to make the Housing First model work.
“In this community, we care for our friends and neighbors. Today we are putting those words into action by collaborating with our non-profit and corporate partners to find solutions to house our most chronically homeless neighbors,” said Trevor Fuller, Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners chairman. “We will work to make this community priority a reality by steadfastly maintaining our part of the plan and finding solutions to make life better for all Mecklenburg County residents.”
“The Housing First model is a shift from how we used to operate where we tried to address any issues before providing housing,” said Dena Diorio, Manager of Mecklenburg County. “We used housing as a reward instead of treating it as a required component of the treatment plan. We’ve found that by providing stable housing first, service delivery is more effective and results in better outcomes.”
There will be many ways for the community (from businesses, individuals, schools, neighborhoods and houses of faith) to get involved as this initiative ramps up. The first opportunity will be the Point In Time Count3 on Jan. 27-29. To sign up as a volunteer to count, please contact Liz Clasen-Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, log onto www.HousingFirstCharMeck.org.
Having active participation from community partners will be essential for the initiative’s success including:
Bank of America
Carolinas CARE Partnership
Carolinas Healthcare System
Charlotte Center City Partners
Charlotte Chamber of Commerce
Charlotte Housing Authority
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Coalition for Housing
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority
City of Charlotte
Crisis Assistance Ministry
Foundation for the Carolinas
Homeless Services Network
Men’s Shelter of Charlotte
Supportive Housing Communities
University of North Carolina Charlotte
Urban Ministry Center
1Definition of chronic homelessness
According to HUD, a person is chronically homeless if he/she has at least one disabling condition and has experienced a continuous year of homelessness or has had four episodes of homelessness over the last three years. A family can be considered chronically homeless if the above conditions apply to the head of household.
2 Definition of Housing First
In the Housing First approach, eligibility criteria is minimal, the housing provided is not time limited, and while tenants are proactively engaged, services are voluntary and housing is not contingent on participation in services. Housing First models are low-barrier, permanent, supportive housing programs that minimize eligibility criteria. For example, Moore Place is a single-site Housing First model.
3Definition of Point In Time Count
The Point-in-Time (PIT) count is a count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night in January. HUD requires that Continuums of Care conduct an annual count of homeless persons who are sheltered in emergency shelter, transitional housing, and Safe Havens on a single night.