Men's Shelter of Charlotte

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MSC’s Equation Brings Action To Our Fundamental Beliefs

The solution to ending each man’s homeless experience is through intense focus on MSC’s Equation: Income + Housing + Support = An End to Homelessness.  Sounds simple and in many ways it is.  Figure out what’s needed for success and then concentrate on doing that very well.  The devil, as they say, is in the details.  Let’s take a quick look at each component of this equation.

Every man served at the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte (MSC) has a path to income, either through employment or benefits (maybe both in some cases). Income is often focused on cash because, after all, it takes money to pay rent.  But think a little broader for a moment.  Helping someone who is eligible for food stamps obtain them actually increases their income.  Food stamps will buy groceries leaving more of a small monetary income to pay for rent, utilities, and other necessities.  Once all aspects of income can be pieced together then housing becomes a reality.

As I discussed two weeks ago, MSC uses the phrase more appropriate housing because not everyone will move into their own rental apartment.  Depending on one’s income a boarding house may be most appropriate.  For someone else with significant medical or mental health needs a group home or supportive living arrangement may be the answer.  For others, reuniting with family may be their housing success.  As long as the housing meets the needs of the person, then most forms of housing are more appropriate than living in an emergency shelter. 

Support may sound easiest but it’s often the most overlooked area and can be very challenging to accomplish. As explained in the opening essay for this series, the experience of homelessness comes about because someone has lost (or never had) a personal support system.  Building, or rebuilding, that system is a challenge but necessary because none of us can survive without a personal support system.  At MSC we try to establish five supports for each man as he moves out (there must be at least two).  Supports can include family, friends, recovery groups (AA, NA, etc.), church, co-workers, and community-based providers of services such as healthcare, mental health treatment, food pantries, and educational activities.  Each person’s system will look different but we all need support. 

The key to ending someone’s homeless experience is figuring out how to put this equation together in such a way that it meets their individual needs. A cookie cutter approach just won’t work!  This is often very time consuming but well worth it in the end because it works.  Last year MSC helped 497 men end their homeless experience by applying our equation to their unique needs and desires. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this series and maybe learned a bit more about why MSC does what it does. Please continue to follow the impact of MSC’s equation by checking out our website, following us on Facebook, and continuing to tune into my blog.  Soon (end of October) we’ll post our impact report to the community and then continue to post them quarterly.  You will see MSC’s fundamental beliefs in action as we continue to end homelessness for the men we serve.

Carson Dean

In September 2008 I became the Executive Director of the Men's Shelter of Charlotte. I've spent almost 15 years working to end homelessness in North Carolina. After working with homeless and runaway youth in Raleigh, I served as the Director of the South Wilmington Street Center (men's shelter) in Wake County and then worked on Orange County's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. I am a former board chair for the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness and former chair of the Homeless Services Network in Charlotte. In 2014 I served as the partner agency representative on the United Way Central Carolinas board of directors.

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