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Former Clients Receive Turkey Dinners

The Charlotte Knights helped 25 former guests have a brighter holiday. 

On Tuesday, Knights staff delivered frozen turkeys and stuffing to the shelter – but it didn’t stay there for long.  The Thanksgiving meals went to former clients who now live on their own.

“It means everything.  Thanksgiving is about family,” said recipient Mike Wilson.  Wilson moved into his own apartment about 6 months ago and was thankful to get a call from his case manager about the turkeys.

The donation was a great opportunity for us to follow-up with the clients who have moved out and celebrate their successes over the last year.  From July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014, 497 men moved into more appropriate housing.

Homer’s Turkey Drive also delivered turkeys to First Baptist Church, Urban Ministries and Hospitality House of Charlotte.

MSC & You: Making a Positive Impact on Our Community

I’m so excited to release the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte’s (MSC) first Impact Report –MSC Quarterly Impact Report_Jul-Sep2014.  MSC is releasing this report in an effort to demonstrate 1st Qtr Impact Report FY15our success towards ending homelessness, to show where we have to work harder, and to keep our stakeholders informed.  MSC takes its responsibility as stewards of community resources seriously and believes in being fully transparent.  This Impact Report is available on our website where you will find other important documents including our tax returns. 

While I think the report speaks for itself, I would like to highlight a couple of important items. 

First, MSC’s scattered sites approach towards rapid rehousing is working.  You’ll see from the map that we have moved men into rental housing throughout our Charlotte-Mecklenburg County community. 

Second, we are on track to achieve 500 moves to more appropriate housing by the end of our fiscal year.  When added to the 497 men we moved in fiscal year 2014, our momentum is strong! 

Third, MSC moves a lot of men into more appropriate housing who are considered chronically homeless.  You may remember from previous blogs that I’m not a fan of labeling people.  However, it is proven that those who are chronically homeless utilize a disproportionate share of community resources.  So, MSC is proud that about 20% of the men we’ve moved into more appropriate housing are chronically homeless.  These are men with serious barriers who have overcome and now have a place of their own!

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check out the graphs that make up our report.  We’re thrilled that so many man have been positively impacted during the first few months of this fiscal year and I look forward to the opportunity to report our impact to you every few months.   

MSC’s Fundamental Beliefs

Over the next five weeks, I’d like to lay out and briefly discuss the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte’s (MSC) rationales for our fundamental beliefs.  These five statements frame our agency’s decision-making process, but they are more than planning or values statements.  Each statement illustrates a core belief about homelessness and sets the tone for how MSC will end homelessness for the men we serve (our mission).  First, let me introduce MSC’s fundamental beliefs:

The Men’s Shelter of Charlotte believes:

1.  Homelessness was created by society and can therefore be solved by society.

2. To successfully end their homeless experience, men need support and assistance appropriate to their individual situations; providing too much assistance is wasteful, while too little support fosters failure.

3. Shelter is more appropriate than the streets, and most other forms of housing are more appropriate then shelter.

4. Substance addiction recovery is a life-long process and best supported through a harm reduction approach.

5. The solution to ending each man’s homeless experience is through intense focus on MSC’s Equation: Income + Housing + Support = An End to Homelessness.

Tune In to Learn More

My hope is that you will join me each week as I unpack these fundamental beliefs and attempt to connect our beliefs to our daily work and, more importantly, the impact MSC is having on not just serving men experiencing homelessness, but actually helping them end their homeless experience.

So,  next week we’ll start with a brief history lesson.  Homelessness as we know it is a fairly recent creation, brought about by some interesting societal decisions.  That’s all I’ll give you for now, you’ll have to tune in next week for more of the story…

Sneak Preview: A Banner Year!

As we approach the end of another fiscal year (ours ends June 30th), we have much to celebrate at the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte (MSC).  Our equation:  Income + Housing + Support = An End to Homelessness – is working!  Allow me to share some of the impact our housing component is having on ending homelessness in our community.  Our goal for this year was to move 400 men out of the shelter and into more appropriate housing.  We reached that goal before the end of April!  As of April 30th, MSC has moved 423 men into more appropriate housing. 

What’s even better is where they now live.  Our staff helped 45% (190) of those men move into a rental home of their own.  Another 25% (106) were reunited with family.  That’s a whopping 70% who moved from the shelter into a permanent housing situation. 

So, where’d the other 30% go?  They moved into housing situations that are more appropriate than living in the shelter, including supportive housing programs, assisted living, and long-term treatment programs.  There’s more.  So far this fiscal year, only 2% (12 men) of those who we helped moved into more appropriate housing have returned to the shelter! 

We’re very proud of our staff, our volunteers, and our donors who all worked together to make this year’s impact so successful.  We’re even more proud of the 423 men so far this year who have made life changing decisions, focused on their goals, and worked relentlessly to get themselves out of the shelter and into housing.  In case you’re wondering, next year our goal is to move 500 men into more appropriate housing.  Stay tuned…

More Appropriate Housing

I get asked often what the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte means when we talk about moving men into more appropriate housing.  Partly, I think the question stems from our desire to categorize things or fit them neatly into boxes.  I get it, I have my own need for order and consistency.  However, when dealing with people, we can’t do our best to serve when concerned more about classifying than understanding.  So, here’s how we explain the concept of “more appropriate housing” at the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte. 

First, sleeping in an emergency shelter is more appropriate than being on the streets.  I think most folks will readily agree on that.  Next, most other forms of housing are more appropriate than staying in a shelter.  Why?  Shelter must be a short intervention aimed at helping someone in crisis quickly stabilize and then move on with their lives.  For too long we’ve accepted the idea that once someone is in shelter it’s a good opportunity to deal with their issues so they can then be ready for housing.  Not so!  More than anything, long stays in shelter rob men of their esteem, their self-motivation.  We need to help them move out of the shelter as quickly and effectively as possible.  This starts with locating and obtaining more appropriate housing.  For example, for someone overcoming addiction, a long-term residential treatment program may be more appropriate than shelter.  A group home for medically fragile Veterans may be more appropriate.  Assisted living may be more appropriate.  For a lot of men, an apartment of their own is more appropriate.  For many, being reunited with family is more appropriate. 

Yes, there must be supports in place regardless of the housing opportunity to help deal with issues when times get tough.  But times get tough for all of us.  And when we have a support system we are able to deal with those obstacles and move on.  Same applies with moving men into more appropriate housing.  Making sure they have the income to sustain their housing choice and making sure supports are in place are critical.  But the first step is understanding that shelter is very temporary and most other forms of housing are more appropriate.  It’s not always a neat and tidy approach, but it’s incredibly effective.

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