If you asked a government employee what industry they’re in, you might get an answer like “I work in the public sector.” But here in Mecklenburg County, we like to say something a little different. For us, we see ourselves as being in the “people business,” meaning that everything we do revolves around finding ways to improve the lives of the people who live and work here.
One group of people that our Community Support Services (CSS) staff works with on a daily basis is the homeless population. During our annual Point-in-Time Count in 2018, we found that 1,668 people were experiencing homelessness on the night of the count. And while the number of homeless persons has decreased by 16 percent from 2010 to 2018, there’s still a lot of work to do.
Take a look at some of the programs that our Homeless Services Division is involved in.
Moore Place is a 120-unit Housing First apartment building for men and women who were once chronically homeless. Although it is owned and operated by the Urban Ministry Center of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County provides onsite social work staff to support residents as they adjust to their new housing; assisting them with achieving their goals and more.
Shelter Plus Care
Shelter Plus Care is a federally funded program that works to help move individuals and adults with families who are homeless, have a disability, and a low-income into permanent housing. In Mecklenburg County the three goals of Shelter Plus Care are to increase housing stability, increase income and/or skills and obtain greater self-sufficiency. CSS staff administers the grant funds and provides the support services needed to help participants achieve these goals.
Housing First Charlotte-Mecklenburg Partnership
The Housing First Charlotte-Mecklenburg Partnership (HFCM) is a collaboration between Mecklenburg County, The Urban Ministry Center, and CHA to help end homelessness in Charlotte. They are guided by the Housing First philosophy, recognizing that people experiencing homelessness need housing first before other life challenges can be addressed.
HFCM provides affordable homes, with accompanying support services, for 66 formerly homeless individuals. The program is working to nearly double its capacity in the next year, with a goal of 120 people stably housed. To provide housing, HFCM follows a model known as the Scattered-Site Permanent Supportive Housing model. This is where program participants rent from landlords in the community with a housing voucher provided by CHA.
Back to the Housing First philosophy, all of CSS’s programs use this as part of our efforts to end chronic homelessness. Ultimately, the goal is to connect individuals and families with permanent housing solutions without preconditions and barriers to entry. With this approach eligibility requirements for programs are minimal, there is no time limit on the housing provided, and housing is not dependent on participation in services.
CSS at Work
Now let’s take a look at a real-life example of CSS’s work. In July of 2018, CSS was a part of helping one of our homeless neighbors settle into his own home after 20 years of being on the street. Erin, a CSS employee, and Madeline from Urban Ministry Center of Charlotte provided him with a Welcome Home Kit that included sheets, towels, dishes, cleaning supplies and much more!
Visit CSS on Facebook to learn about more of their success stories!
How Can You Help Us End Homelessness?
Residents often tell us that they’d like to find ways to help out in the community. Here are a few opportunities for you to get involved with our efforts to end homelessness:
- Participate in the Point-in-Time Count: The Point-in-Time Count is an annual event where we survey and count every person experiencing homelessness on one night. You can participate by donating your time, donating items for the homeless, and helping us raise awareness. For more information, visit www.EverybodyCountsCLT.org.
- Become a private landlord: We are always looking for private landlords to partner with us and rent to our clients (a subsidy payment is provided). If you’re interested, send an email to Erin.Nixon@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov or call 980-314-8923.
- Volunteer with our partners: Our partners at Urban Ministry Center, the Men’s Shelter and the Salvation Army could always use your help. Check out their websites for volunteer opportunities.