The North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness (NCCEH), an NLIHC state coalition partner, launched a story-gathering project to show how rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing programs help people who are homeless and the communities in which they live. NCCEH hopes this new project will help advance its advocacy efforts to secure increased state investment in programs proven to effectively help individuals and families move from homelessness to stable, permanent housing.
“Our organization operates at the connection of policy creation and implementation, so we want to make sure that we use real stories of how things are working on the ground when communicating with policy makers,” said Denise Neunaber, NCCEH executive director. “We have always included people who have experienced homelessness and local providers in our advocacy work. We wanted to find a way to get more of their stories heard and perspectives from across North Carolina included.”
Three North Carolina communities—Ashville, Guilford and Wilmington—have reported drastic reductions in chronic homelessness since they began implementing their 10-year plans to end homelessness. These reductions, 75%, 60% and 80%, respectively, resulted from a strategic use of resources to provide permanent supportive housing. NCCEH is working with leaders at the local and state levels to apply lessons from these successful communities statewide.
Communities also have kept the numbers of new homeless individuals relatively stable, thanks to the use of Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) funds. Advocates report that rapid re-housing programs have proven to be a cost-effective tool for getting North Carolina families back into housing quickly. NCCEH and its partners hope to continue these programs through repurposing existing funds and a new state investment.
NCCEH anticipates that it will collect stories on a rolling basis and integrate them into its ongoing advocacy work. It will feature them in meetings and as part of an email campaign and targeted advocacy communications.
In addition, NCCEH is collecting information on how structural changes in organizational or community strategy have led to success in ending homelessness. The coalition is interested in learning about partnerships that have been instrumental in advancing a strategy, the funding needed to implement it, the populations affected and level of impact as well as challenges encountered. This information will be used to educate lawmakers and other decision makers about collaborations and policies that are effective in removing barriers and creating systems change to end homelessness.
“One of the best parts of working with NCCEH is hearing the wonderful stories of success from individuals, families, programs and communities,” Ms. Neunaber said. “We want to send a positive message that includes what might be unexpected success stories during particularly tough times. We know we can end homelessness because, as these stories show, we are.”