CHARLOTTE — On Wednesday, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Strategy released the first part of its plan to end and prevent homelessness in the Charlotte area.
The objective of the 70-page report, called a Strategic Framework, is to create a community where homelessness is both rare and brief, and where everyone has access to permanent, affordable housing.
The plan includes recommendations across nine areas: Prevention, shelter, affordable housing, cross-sector supports, policy, funding, data, communications, and long-term strategy.
“It’s super important we look at the contributing factors, which could be mental health, which could be substance abuse, which could be things that inhibit them from getting a lease, because they have a record, said Michael Smith, CEO and president of Center City Partners.
Channel 9 has reported for years on the affordable housing crisis in Charlotte -- finding affordable housing is a challenge for many, and COVID-19 is only making it harder.
The framework, a result of months of work, includes a new calculation by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute that found more than 10,500 households are at risk of eviction due to the pandemic. The CMHHS also said in a single night in Charlotte, more than 3,000 people are experiencing homelessness. That number doesn’t include the thousands of people and families who are paying by the week to stay in hotels, or those who are doubling up with family and friends.
That number is expected to continue rising.
Now, the solution -- A four-pronged approach that separates the nine recommendations by the values that uphold them: Addressing historical and structural inequities, expanding access to resources, coordinating systems to ensure they are easy to navigate and changing the system to sustain long-term impact.
The framework stresses that to achieve the goals laid out, organizers need funding. They asked for a multi-level, durable strategy that must involve the public, private, philanthropic, and faith sectors.
“Once you put someone in permanent and supportive housing, they’re able to address the things that make them at risk for homelessness in the first place,” Smith said.
The report lays out an action plan for the next four years.
The plan was created with input from city, county and business leaders, as well as members of the public sector and those who have lived with housing instability.
Wednesday also marks the annual Point-in-Time Count, a required census so that the county may receive federal funding to help those who are homeless. The Point-in-Time Count is led by Mecklenburg County and known locally as “EverybodyCountsCLT.” The goal of the Point-in-Time Count is to ensure that everyone experiencing literal homelessness is counted.
In a news release, the CMHHS said its decision to release the framework on the same day as the count was so that it could serve as an important reminder for why we need solutions, now. Releasing the framework shifted the organization’s focus from plan development to implementation, so that the recommendations it made could be acted upon.
“Homelessness is a human and community tragedy that impacts all of us,” said Cathy Bessant, Vice Chair, Global Strategy, Bank of America and co-chair of CMHHS. “Our focus has been on developing an approach that addresses the full continuum of need, and on helping to drive meaningful and lasting change. With everyone at the table, including the public, non-profit, and private sectors, we plan to support existing work while creating and executing innovative, new approaches.”
“It has been an honor and a privilege to co-chair the 2025 Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing and Homelessness Strategy, alongside Cathy Bessant, over the past year,” said Eugene A. Woods, president and CEO of Atrium Health. “We’ve seen firsthand the deep commitment and incredible spirit of collaboration in this public-private partnership as we have worked together to address one of the most pressing challenges our community faces, and this partnership will undoubtedly continue to grow stronger.”
To learn more about the framework, click here.
(WATCH BELOW: Property owners struggling to get supplies, impacting affordable housing)
©2022 Cox Media Group