In the next week, MSC plans to publish our first Quarterly Impact Report for the months July-August-September 2014 (1st Quarter of FY15). Our purpose in making this report public is to demonstrate to all of our stakeholders, as well as the larger community, the impact MSC’s Equation: Income+Housing+Support is having on ending homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County. I’d like to give you a sneak preview to our upcoming report.
1st Quarter Results:
- 114 men have moved to more appropriate housing – we’re right on track to move 500 men this fiscal year
- Average income for men moving out of our shelters is $917 per month
- 53% of moves are to permanency – rental housing and family reunification
As proud as we are that these numbers are demonstrating success, we’re even prouder of the men behind the numbers. Did you know that the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte serves fathers, sons, brothers, grandfathers, uncles, and cousins? Did you know MSC serves plumbers, roofers, chefs, information technologists, and entrepreneurs? Did you know that 10% of the men experiencing homelessness and seeking MSC’s assistance have proudly served in our United States armed forces? Too often we have a stereotype in mind when we think of a “homeless man.” However, the reality is that the men who are experiencing homelessness and served at MSC are you and me.
Keep your eye on our website – www.MensShelterofCharlotte – for the full report by the end of October. Next week I’ll share more of the impact MSC is having on ending homelessness for the men we serve.
What do you think about when you hear the phrase “Human Rights Issue”? I think about human trafficking, suppression of civil rights, and discrimination, to name a few. But have you thought about homelessness as a human rights issue? Many people experiencing homelessness face issues of domestic violence, suppression of rights, and, yes, even human trafficking. As importantly, people experiencing homelessness need access to what we can all agree is a basic human right – a safe, decent, affordable place to live. So it makes sense to place homelessness within the context of human rights issues.
Just this week, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness posted a blog titled “3 Reasons to Address Homelessness as a Human Rights Issue.” You can find the full blog at http://USICH.gov/blog. Below I’ve quoted the gist of their posting, which I think is important for all who are concerned about homelessness to consider.
Here are three key benefits of addressing homelessness from a human rights perspective:
- Housing is a human right, and remembering that keeps stakeholders focused on helping people who experience homelessness achieve permanent housing, rather than on services that – may be well-intentioned but – do not ultimately help people exit homelessness into housing stability. Permanent housing is the primary solution to preventing and ending homelessness and the overarching strategy of Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.
- Human rights put people first. Good strategies start from understanding the unique needs of individuals, families, youth, and Veterans. A human rights approach keeps people and their needs at the forefront of our work.
- Homelessness has a human cost. Yes, ending homelessness is cost-effective for the taxpayer (doing nothing can actually cost taxpayers more money). But dollars are not the only cost of homelessness; humans experience homelessness at a horrific expense to the health and well-being of themselves and their communities. When we make the case that safe and stable housing is a human right, our cause is strengthened. We can tap into the passions, relationships, and experiences that cut across sectors — and budget sheets — to create new partnerships and solutions.
Thanks to Liz Osborn at the USICH for making such a thoughtful and compelling argument for addressing homelessness as a human rights issue. To learn more about the federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, Opening Doors (mentioned by Liz above), please visit their website at usich.gov.
One key strategy for ending homelessness is to stop thinking about the issue as a social ill or condition. It’s a tragic human experience. It’s also a human experience we can end and prevent.