UNC Charlotte study finds success in Charlotte-Mecklenburg's efforts to end homelessness

November 12, 2020

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - NOV. 12, 2020 - A new comprehensive study from UNC Charlotte's Urban Institute, College of Health and Human Services and School of Social Work shows an effective approach to ending chronic homelessness that helps those in need and benefits communities.

The Housing First Charlotte-Mecklenburg initiative, an innovative multi-sector collaboration that's been working to end chronic homelessness in Charlotte for five years, has placed more than 1,000 people in the Charlotte community in stable housing. This is the largest and most comprehensive local effort to address chronic homelessness. Nationwide, on any given night, more than 550,000 Americans are experiencing homelessness, and this research could offer guidance to cities around the U.S. struggling with this issue.

"The Housing First Charlotte-Mecklenburg effort led to major housing wins during a time of increasing housing scarcity, and the vast majority of those who were able to access housing through the effort did not return to emergency shelters," said Lori Thomas, associate professor at UNC Charlotte's School of Social Work and Director of Research and Faculty Engagement at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute.

Thomas has completed an evaluation of the first phase of the program, the most rigorous and in-depth study to date in Charlotte and one of the few reports in the country that examines a community's overall response to chronic homelessness. Findings highlighted in Thomas' research may have a significant impact throughout the country in other cities working to expand Housing First programs such as Atlanta, Denver, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Key findings from the first phase of the Housing First program include: There were also lessons learned that can improve the initiative. Among those:"With the release of the Housing First Evaluation report, we are able to share information with the community about the results and impact of a public-private, community initiative to end chronic homelessness," said Stacy Lowry, director of community support services for Mecklenburg County. "In addition to outcomes, this report also provides an in-depth analysis of the initiative, itself. By looking at the relationship between outcomes and process, Charlotte-Mecklenburg can use this report to expand and strengthen existing efforts to prevent and end homelessness as well as inform new, systemic solutions to address complex problems comprehensively and effectively."
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The executive summary, full outcomes evaluation, process evaluation reports and an FAQ can be found at http://www.ui.uncc.edu.

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

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