Housing for Homeless
Through our HousingWorks program,the Urban Ministry Center seeks to fulfill its mission of ending homelessness by giving the most vulnerable what they so desperately need: a home. HousingWorks has three pathways to housing for chronically homeless individuals: at Moore Place, an 85-unit apartment building that opened in February 2012; in Scattered Site apartments (45 units); and in MeckFUSE, a partnership with Mecklenburg County providing an additional 45 community-based apartments.
The HousingWorks approach is simple: give chronically homeless individuals what they need most – a safe, stable, affordable home – and then provide the wrap-around support to help them remain housed and regain lives of wellness and dignity. A team of social workers, therapists, a full-time nurse and a part-time psychiatrist provide supportive services to help each HousingWorks tenant manage the transition from long-term homelessness to housing, and to help individuals meet personal goals to ensure they never become homeless again.
HousingWorks specifically targets those individuals who have been homeless the longest, are the most vulnerable and are the most frequent users of emergency rooms, jails, shelters and other costly crisis services. Our experience demonstrates – and research shows – that supportive housing for this population saves lives and saves our community money.
In February 2010, the Urban Ministry Center – in partnership with a dozen local agencies and over 110 community volunteers – conducted a Vulnerability Index to identify the chronically homeless. The results were staggering; 807 individuals were counted. These people have been homeless for more than a year, or at least four times in the past three years, and also are living with a disability. And 388 of these individuals had at least one vulnerability factor which places them at higher risk for dying.
Over the years, we have come to know this population very well. They cycle in and out of jail cells, hospital rooms, emergency rooms and shelters. Despite the fact that they consume 50 percent of community resources, their outcomes are rarely good.
Housing First: A Solution
There is a solution to chronic homelessness. It’s an evidence-based practice called Housing First, which recognizes a fundamental right to housing, no matter what a person’s mental health condition or physical disability or addiction may be. The idea focuses on getting people into housing first – giving them the foundation of a good night’s sleep, peace of mind and stability which, in turn, better positions them to work towards their personal issues and goals and to remain housed. It makes sense – who among us could tackle sobriety while sleeping under a bridge? It makes economic sense, too. Research has proven that the cost of permanent housing and services is far less than the expensive cycle of jails, ERs and shelter beds.
- One ER visit: $1,029
- One night in jail: $110
- One day in hospital: $2,165
- One night in a HousingWorks apartment: $38
Stated another way, the average community cost of a chronically homeless person is more than $39,000 per year in shelter, hospital, ER and jail costs – all of which serve only as bandaids and don’t end a person’s homelessness. Through HousingWorks, we can provide stable housing and case management to this same individual for $13,983 annually and have positive outcomes in health, sobriety and stabilization. In short, HousingWorks saves lives and saves our community money. See how the community benefits in our The Community Impact of Moore Place.
In Their Own Words: What Housing Means
“Housing is having my own. It’s a beginning, it’s hope, it’s a gift. I no longer worry from day to day, night to night, minute to minute who, what, where, when, how and/or why.” – tenant Tabby Burns
“Housing means freedom. Housing means feeling like a real human being. Housing means having a key to open the door to your ‘own’ home.” – tenant Carl Frank Caldwell
“[Housing] let me know that God is still on my side. I am more at peace and can think clearer. I feel good about myself.” – tenant Sharon Davis
“Housing means hope.” – tenant William Pumphrey
Eligibility for HousingWorks:
All potential tenants must be unaccompanied (we regret we cannot house couples or families) and meet the federal definition of chronic homelessness, including documentation of a disabling condition. They must be a US resident, ages 18 or older. Income is not a requirement.
HousingWorks participates in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Coordinated Assessment System and all referrals for housing must come from one of the assessment sites. Click here for a list of assessment sites.
How to Help
HousingWorks is in need of 1-2 vehicles to haul large items and help transport clients to appointments, grocery shopping and community events. Contact Katie Church for details.
- Make a donation: All gifts are fully tax-deductible. Donate securely online or mail your check, payable to Urban Ministry Center,2435 Lucena St, Charlotte, NC 28206. Please designate “Housing” in the memo line.
- Furniture donations: We partner with Crisis Assistance Ministry to meet our furniture needs. To make a donation to the Furniture Bank, contact Crisis Ministry at 704-522-4978.
- Everyday Basics
- Cleaning suppliesSmall trash bags
- Paper products (toilet tissue, paper towels, etc.)
- Regular size toiletries (we have an abundance of travel-size shampoos, so bigger is better for those in housing)
- Laundry detergent and dryer sheets