University enters partnership to report on homelessness

In a joint press conference, the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and UNC Charlotte announced a partnership for an annual reporting on homelessness issues spearheaded by the University’s Urban Institute.

The institute’s Point in Time (PIT) report, which contained results from January, showed a 17 percent decrease in the number of homeless individuals counted from the year before. In January 2013, there were 2,418, and in January 2014, there were 2,104. Ashley Williams, a data and research coordinator for the Urban Institute, Institute for Social Capital, and Eric Caratao, a social research specialist for the Urban Institute, co-authored the PIT report.

“We are especially grateful to Jeff Michael and his team at the Urban Institute who are helping us to collect comprehensive data and organize it in an analytical framework that will help us make informed decisions as we move forward,” said Charlotte Councilwoman Patsy Kinsey at the press conference. “This important partnership is critical to the success of implementing our 10-year plan as we focus on achieving specific and measureable results.”

A PIT count is required annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is intended to provide a snapshot of how many people are sheltered in homeless programs and unsheltered on any given night. The PIT count for Charlotte-Mecklenburg was conducted on Jan. 29, 2014.

This year’s Point in Time indicated a rise in veterans homelessness from 120 counted in January 2013 to 157 counted in January 2014. There were 203 people counted as chronically homeless, which is defined as an individual with a disability who has been homeless for one year or longer or who has been homeless at least four times in the last three years.

“While the numbers for these subpopulations are up in 2014,”said Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller, “there is currently a focus in Charlotte and at the federal government level to end chronic homelessness and homelessness among military veterans”.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg community has been working on an “Acceleration to Housing” initiative between the Veterans Administration, city, county, Charlotte Housing Authority and local homeless service providers. This initiative is housing chronically homeless individuals, families and veterans. Recent results of that initiative show a total of 340 households, 440 individuals including 57 veteran households housed since May 2013.

“The report was made possible by a Catalyst Fund Grant from the Foundation for the Carolinas and it is part of a series of annual reports which will use data to enhance our understanding of the progress this community is making to end and prevent homelessness, said UNC Charlotte Provost Joan Lorden. “This reporting partnership allows UNC Charlotte to help identify solutions to critical and regional problems.”

Photo: Ken Szymanski, representing the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Coalition for Housing, director of the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association; Pamela Jefsen, representing the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Continuum of Care, executive director of supportive housing communities; Kelly Lynn, current chair of the Homeless Services Network; Lori Thomas, assistant professor, UNC Charlotte Department of Social Work; and Ashley Williams, a data and research coordinator for the Urban Institute, Institute for Social Capital