Housing remains a top individual service request among Veterans and military families in our area. Generally speaking, “housing requests” encompass a range of situations from Veterans and families seeking more affordable places to live to actual street homelessness.
As our community gears up for the annual Point-in-Time Count, it is a good time to take a closer look at the state of Veteran homelessness in Charlotte.
Patrick Hayes, our Network Director, recently shared some of his notes prior to attending a recent Charlotte "Housing Our Heroes" meeting giving us a glimpse into the current state of Veterans Homelessness in Mecklenburg County - the good and the bad.
Bad news first: Mecklenburg County experienced an increase in newly identified homeless Veterans in November. 53 Veterans were added to the list, nine were housed and two became inactive, meaning they have not interacted with a homeless services provider in the last 90 days, for a net gain of 42. Our current number of homeless Veterans in Mecklenburg County is 212.
How did we find these additional homeless Veterans?
Part of the answer is better coordination and information sharing across the community. 11 of the Veterans came to the VA’s Healthcare Community Center (on Tyvola) or the Community-based Outreach Center (University City area) but were not in the Homeless Management Information System. 17 of these Veterans were temporarily sheltered through the “Room at the Inn” program. 9 Veterans were identified when requesting overflow mats at the Men’s Shelter.
Good news: At 212, we have reduced Veteran homelessness by 33% since December 2018.
What has accounted for this sharp decrease? The bulk of this decrease can be attributed to better coordination of services between agencies. Charlotte has been privileged to be a part of a national initiative Built For Zero. Built For Zero allows communities to come together to share best practices, and to learn about what is working in other communities. Through this program we have become better as a community at identifying Veterans in need and matching them to available resources.
What remains to be done? We need to continue working with the community to identify housing resources and build the inventory of affordable housing in Charlotte. While we are doing a better job of using the available resources, our community continues to experience an affordable housing crisis. With-out more safe affordable housing units new families and individuals will continue to enter into homelessness.