More than 250 volunteers to survey Charlotte’s chronically homeless

January 24, 2015 12:54 pm

First step in Housing First Charlotte-Mecklenburg plan to end chronic homelessness begins next week

Next week, more than 250 volunteers will take to Charlotte’s streets, soup kitchens and shelters to create a “registry” of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness1. Between Jan. 29 and 31, volunteers will survey each person who is homeless with a goal of understanding which individuals are most vulnerable and should be prioritized for housing in our community.

The effort is part of the first step to ending chronic homelessness outlined in the Housing First2 Charlotte-Mecklenburg: Ending Chronic Homelessness in 2016 plan. The plan’s stated goal is to end chronic homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg by the end of 2016. The registry will be our starting point and a key indicator of the plan’s progress made during the next two years.

Through the Housing First Charlotte-Mecklenburg effort, service providers will work with every individual placed on the registry to connect them with housing by December 31, 2016. Each individual will be assessed through the coordinated assessment process in order to be placed in the queue for Permanent Supportive Housing units. Project management staff and UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute are responsible for managing the registry, adding individuals as they are identified and tracking housing placements. The chronic homelessness registry process builds upon the successful Vulnerability Index model, which was completed in Charlotte in 2010.

Volunteers are required to attend one of two training sessions, to be held at Covenant Presbyterian Church (1000 E. Morehead St.) on Sunday, Jan. 25 from 2-4pm or Tuesday, Jan. 27 from 7-9pm. Volunteers will be paired with team leaders and police officers, and will interview people in many different locations, including homeless camps spread throughout the county.

The volunteer effort will also help to fulfill our community’s annual January Point in Time Count (PIT)3, mandated by the federal government. The PIT count will take place on Thursday, Jan. 29, and will include the number of people who spend Wednesday night without shelter, combined with the number of people who spent Wednesday night in an emergency shelter. The PIT count is an estimate of how many people experience homelessness in our community on any given night.

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


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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.

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