Community members are welcome and encouraged to attend the January 25, 2023 Joint City/County Meeting to hear the results of the needs assessment and the recommended strategies to improve our community response to homelessness. It will be held at Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville, 1 – 4 p.m.
Homelessness has increased steadily throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particular increase in the number of people who are unsheltered. Early in 2022, the City of Asheville, Buncombe County, and Dogwood Health Trust formed a collaborative to respond to the increased need, and Dogwood Health Trust offered to fund a consultancy to bring national expertise to the local community to better understand and address the crisis of unsheltered homelessness. The City is serving as the contracting point of contact for this collaborative, and published a Request for Proposals in February 2022 on behalf of the group. Eleven proposals were received and reviewed by a selection committee composed of staff from the three organizations.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness was unanimously selected by the committee for their proposed approach and deep expertise. On May 10, 2022, City Council voted to accept $72,974 from Dogwood Health Trust for a contract with the National Alliance to End Homelessness. The City will continue to serve as the primary point of contact throughout this project, and will work closely with Buncombe County and Dogwood Health Trust throughout the process.
Project Scope and Results
Phase One has been a comprehensive needs assessment to understand the increase in unsheltered homelessness, the experience of people who are unsheltered as they navigate services, the efficacy of the homeless service system, and the community context surrounding unsheltered homelessness. During this phase NAEH has collected and evaluated both quantitative and qualitative data, and reviewed our community’s homeless service system structure, governance, funding, and policies. Quantitative data has been gathered from our community Homeless Management Information System, along with supplementary information shared by service providers. Qualitative data has been collected through stakeholder interviews, surveys, and focus groups, and has included input from people experiencing homelessness, homeless service providers, healthcare providers, law enforcement, neighborhood associations, businesses, faith communities, and the general public.
As Phase One is winding down, NAEH is shifting to crafting recommendations based on identified community needs. Results from each phase were originally planned to be delivered separately, but based on NAEH’s successful work in other communities and the interwoven content between needs and recommendations, results will now be shared through a combined report, anticipated in January 2023.
NAEH project leads Kristi Schulenberg and Josh Johnson shared an overview of the project and their approach at the June 24, 2022 meeting of the Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee. That recording is available here, and their presentation begins at 9:14 a.m. and ends at 9:58 a.m.
Thanks to the many community members who have provided input to the Alliance during the needs assessment phase of the project. Information has been gathered via:
- Site visits and stakeholder interviews with homeless service providers
- Stakeholder interviews and focus groups with neighborhood associations in coordination with the Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods
- Stakeholder interviews and focus groups with businesses in coordination with the Asheville Chamber of Commerce
- Focus groups with faith communities and healthcare providers
- Surveys of community leaders
- Surveys and focus groups with people with current or recent experience of homelessness
- Survey open to all community members
|City Council accepts Dogwood Health Trust funding to initiate contract||May 10, 2022|
|Initial site visit and project planning with NAEH project leads||June 6-9, 2022|
|Stakeholder interviews, surveys, data collection||June – July 2022|
|Second site visit to conduct in-person focus groups||August 15 – 18, 2022|
|Phase One (Comprehensive Needs Assessment) concludes||September 2022|
|Phase Two (Developing Strategies and Recommendations)||October – December 2022|
|UPDATED: Public Presentation and Report of Findings: Joint Meeting of Asheville City Council and Buncombe County Commission, with guest Dogwood Health Trust and Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee||January 25, 2023, 1 – 4 p.m.
Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville
Ongoing Project Updates
Stay up to date on this project by participating in the monthly meeting of the Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee, where the National Alliance to End Homelessness will present process updates as a standing agenda item throughout the project.
Homeless Strategy Division