Homeless Initiative


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The Homeless Initiative is a City and County partnership created to oversee the implementation of the community’s efforts to end
homelessness by making it Rare, Brief, and Non-Recurring. 

The City of Asheville supports the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative with two full-time staff to manage funding, shape policy, and coordinate community strategies to end homelessness. This team monitors the performance of the community’s homelessness services system per requirements of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Continuum Care funding provided to Asheville Buncombe County.

Visit the Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee  page.

Visit Funding Programs pages for more information on Continuum Care and Emergency Solutions Grant.


New Resource: COVID-19 Guidance for Homeless Service Providers



Housing Solves Homelessnesseliminate homelessness tent graphic


The Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative embraces Housing First, and evidence-based approach that prioritizes permanent housing placement for people experiencing homelessness. Once housed, individuals and families have stable platform from which they can recover, pursue personal goals, and improve their quality of life. Outdated strategies typically force people to solve complex personal issues like health, finances and relationships before helping them find basic safe housing.



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Following the Steps of Coordinated Entry Leads to Success


Coordinated Entry


Coordinated Entry is the process through which people experiencing or at risk of homelessness can access housing in a streamlined way. It all starts with a strengths and needs assessment to help quickly connect people to stable, affordable housing options and supportive services within the community.




Assessment occurs in Coordinated Entry using an objective housing needs triage tool called the Vulnerability Index- Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT) to measure each person’s vulnerability, housing circumstances, service needs, and individual preferences. By-Name List, which ensures that most vulnerable homeless neighbors are identified by name and their specific housing needs are known. The By-Name List tracks the status and progress toward permanent housing placement for each individual. It also:

  • Coordinates housing and services options among the community’s service providers
  • Measures progress toward community goals and objectives


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Coordinated Entry removes the confusion
Without Coordinated Entry


Prioritization helps manage the inventory of available housing resources and services, ensuring that those persons with the greatest need and vulnerability receive the support they needs to resolve their housing crisis. All housing placements are determined based on:


  • Length of time homeless
  • Health status and conditions
  • Frequency of interactions with hospital and criminal justice system



Programs and Tools


Community Services are a broad range of resources provided by local agencies including meals, showers, laundry, mail, legal aid, counseling, case management, job training and health clinics.


Prevention and Diversion

Prevention and diversion efforts aim to keep at-risk individuals and families who are housed from becoming homeless and provide innovative paths to avoid entering the shelter system whenever possible.


Emergency Shelter

Emergency Shelter is a traditional temporary option for people living on the street, meeting their basic needs of food, clothing and a place to sleep.


Traditional Housing

Traditional housing is a short-term housing model, typically up to twenty-four months, meant to bridge the gap from homelessness to housing often with programs for addiction, mental health or basic life skills. Rapid Re-housing connects people quickly to safe, sustainable housing through a tailored  package of assistance that may include the use of time-limited rental assistance and targeted supportive services with few barriers.


Permanent Supportive Housing

Permanent Supportive Housing is designed to meet the ongoing needs of people experiencing chronic homelessness, those with severe health needs struggling with homelessness for more than a year.


Measures  of Performance under the NC-501

Asheville- Buncombe County Continuum of Care


What We Measure

The Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative tracks progress toward community objectives to align with goals set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Federal Funding to address homelessness locally is based on specific System Performance Measures. These measures are interrelated and provide a more thorough analysis of the effectiveness of the community’s overall response to homelessness that a single measure, such as the number of people experiencing homelessness on a given day.

The community’s annual Point-in-Time count occurred January 29, 2020, and results are below.  The count is a one-night snapshot of people experiencing homelessness in Buncombe County, rather than a comprehensive picture of homelessness in our community, but the count is conducted the same time each year with the same methodology so provides an overview of the population and trends over time.

Population 2020 2019 2018
Total 547 580 554
Chronic* 110 123 82
Veterans 218 256 247
Youth 15 29 23
Families 70 41 43

*Defined by HUD as 12 months of literal homelessness (shelter, street, car) and having a disability

For additional information, please contact Emily Ball at eball@ashevillenc.gov.



  • Obtain and Maintain Housing – there is increase in the number of people who exit street outreach to permanent housing


  • Job and Income – there is increase in employment and income growth for homeless persons





  • Return to  Homelessness – there is reduction in the amount of people that are permanently housed, but end up back on the streets


  • First Time Homeless – there is reduction in the number of persons who become homeless for the first time


  • Length of Time Homeless – there is reduction in the length of time spent homeless, in emergency shelter, or traditional housing


  • Eliminate Homelessness – there is reduction in the number of persons experiencing homelessness




The City of Asheville allocates and manages almost $1.8 million annually to address homelessness. Funding sources include:

  • United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
    • Continuum of Care (CoC)
    • Home Investment Partnership Program
    • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
  • North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG)
  • Strategic Partnership Fund (SPF)
  • City of Asheville General Fund


Funding Supports


  • Emergency Shelter Operations
  • Rental Assistance and Leasing for Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)
  • Rapid Re-Housing (RRH)
  • Security Deposit Assistance
  • Coordinated Entry and Housing Placement
  • Housing Case Management
  • Homelessness Prevention and Diversion

City of Asheville staff also work to align these activities with other efforts, funding, and resources including:

  • Housing Authority of the City of Asheville
  • Housing Choice Vouchers
  • Affordable Housing Units
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) Vouchers
  • Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF)
  • Grant and per Diem Program (GPD)


Contact Information


Brian Huskey, Community Development Analyst – Homelessness Lead
Economic and Community Development



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