A Home For All: Production Pillar
MARQUITA HENDERSON, TRISH HOBSON & KATE TAYLOR HARCOURT-MEDINA
This blog post is from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Dashboard. View the original post here.
In August, United Way of Greater Charlotte (United Way) released the A Home For All Implementation Plan. Building on the priorities identified in the Strategic Framework, the Implementation Plan outlines which priorities to advance first in order to address housing instability and homelessness across the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. This is the third post in a series of blogs examining the three pillars of the A Home For All Implementation Plan: People, Prevention, and Production. For more information on the People Pillar, click here, and for the Prevention Pillar, click here.
This blog provides an overview of the Production Pillar.
The Production pillar focuses on expanding our production of affordable housing through recruiting existing units to be rented to people currently experiencing homelessness, or building new shelter, permanent supportive housing, and deeply affordable housing units. The initial initiatives under this pillar include Property Provider Recruitment and Retention, and a countywide Housing Trust Fund (HTF). For Charlotte-Mecklenburg to meet A Home For All’s goal of providing housing options across the continuum, the financing and tracking of the affordable housing stock must shift to allow for the supply of all types of units and beds.
The HTF has invested over $200 million into 12,000 units since its inception. In addition, LISC Charlotte manages the Charlotte Housing Opportunity Fund (CHOIF), which dispersed $53 million in funds in 2021 and 2022. However, to address the region’s need for more service-integrated housing, significantly more funding is required, and a countywide HTF is needed to provide long-term flexible gap financing to produce new affordable housing units and shelter beds. The idea is that a countywide HTF would have long-term, dedicated, and recurring financing that would allow developers to plan on future allocations even if the total amount available fluctuates from year to year. The HTF would also incorporate private and philanthropic funding sources where available.
Under the property provider recruitment and retention initiative, the goal is to recruit and retain new and existing property providers to increase the availability of affordable housing units. The implementation team and consultant will explore how incentives can be utilized to increase acceptance of tenants that are experiencing homelessness or housing instability, and what staff is needed to expand the current system. The main objective of this pillar is to create more shelter beds and affordable housing units. While it may sound simple, it is very challenging. Property providers and developers are in business to make a profit, and they should not feel ashamed about that; however, as the need increases for affordable units, we must find a way to help property providers and developers remain profitable while providing housing for our most vulnerable citizens. Centralizing outreach efforts is key to building relationships with property providers, understanding their needs, and learning which housing programs they are a good fit for.
WHERE ARE WE NOW/ NEXT STEPS
For each of the initiatives moving forward this fiscal year, an implementation team, consisting of those with lived experience as well as leaders invested in this work, has been created to guide the work forward. A Request for Proposals was released for a consultant to provide technical assistance in creating a pilot for property provider recruitment and retention, and a $1 million dollar grant was released for an agency to complete the pilot. Once awards are finalized, the consultant and agency will work with the implementation team to elicit feedback on all aspects of objectives and outcomes of piloting and evaluating the work.
SO WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
The biggest challenge we face in reducing and ending homelessness in Mecklenburg County is the lack of affordable housing. We can only move people out of homelessness if there is a place for them to live. We can only offer people shelter if we have open beds. Our system is literally backed up. Our shelters are full because we don’t have enough affordable housing to move people out. Therefore, more people are living in their cars or on the streets. To reduce and end homelessness, we need more exits than entries, which is why the Production Pillar of the A Home For All plan is so important. The initiatives under the Production pillar offer us the ability to help address the immense homeless needs in our community directly. The need for affordable housing is overwhelming, and the solution for that won’t be solved overnight. Through recruitment, retention and advocacy, we truly believe we are on the right path to solving homelessness in our communities.
Together, these initiatives work to reduce displacement and create a community where homelessness is rare, brief, and nonrecurring and every person has access to permanent, affordable housing and the resources to sustain it.
Marquita Henderson is the Lead Housing Resource Coordinator at Charlotte Family Housing and a member of the A Home For All implementation team. As a Charlotte native, she brings a strong desire for helping others and serving the community. Her extensive background in property management led her to want to help residents in a different capacity. Marquita earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from North Carolina Central University.
Trish Hobson has served in leadership roles in nonprofits in both volunteer and staff roles for over 20 years. Since 2016, Trish has served as Executive Director of The Relatives, an organization dedicated to helping youth and young adults move from crisis to stability and to become contributing members of our community. She currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Mecklenburg County Continuum of Care and as a member of the A Home For All implementation team.
KT Harcourt-Medina, PhD is an evaluation manager at United Way of Greater Charlotte, working on A Home For All. She is a social science researcher/evaluator with 10+ years of research & practice-based experience in program & data management. Her degrees are in Human Development and Family Science and her training is in applied research with a focus on participatory action research.