The National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) has finalized their needs assessment and corresponding recommendations related to unsheltered homelessness. You may find the full report here.
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, presented in person by Ann Oliva, CEO of NAEH, and Josh Johnson, Senior Technical Assistance Specialist. The meeting will be held at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville from 1 – 4 p.m. and will be live streamed on the City’s YouTube channel.
Report: Within Reach: Ending Unsheltered Homelessness in the Asheville-Buncombe Continuum of Care
Recommendations: Within Reach: Summary of Recommendations
Agenda: Asheville City Council/Buncombe County Commission Joint Meeting
Presentation: Asheville City Council/Buncombe County Commission Joint Meeting
Recording: Asheville City Council/Buncombe County Commission Joint Meeting
Recommendations were grounded in the Continuum of Care structure, which provides a framework for the community to work together to respond to homelessness most effectively. The Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee (HIAC) serves as the Continuum of Care governance board and leadership body, and has convened 4 work groups to begin implementation of the recommendations: Governance, Shelter, Outreach and Encampment Response, and Coordinated Entry. Follow progress and find out how to participate at HIAC’s monthly meetings; meeting info is available on their webpage here.
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 has served as the primary point of contact throughout the project, working closely with Buncombe County and Dogwood Health Trust.
Project Scope and Results
Phase 1 was a comprehensive needs assessment to understand the increase in unsheltered homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic, the experience of people who are unsheltered as they navigate services, the efficacy of the homeless service system, and the community context surrounded unsheltered homelessness. During this phase, NAEH collected and evaluated both qualitative and quantitative data and reviewed our community’s homeless service system structure, governance, funding, and policies. Quantitative data was gathered from our community Homeless Management Information System, along with supplementary information shared by service providers. Qualitative data was collected through stakeholder interviews, surveys, and focus groups, and included input from people experiencing homelessness, homeless service providers, healthcare providers, law enforcement, neighborhood associations, businesses, faith communities, and the general public.
In Phase 2, NAEH developed a set of recommendations to guide improvements in our community’s response to homelessness. Recommendations are grouped into 5 broad strategies, with corresponding priorities and action steps:
- Strategy 1 – Create a Strong Foundation: Support Systems-Level Planning and Coordination
- Strategy 2 – Implement Evidence-Based and Inclusive Policy: Create an Equitable, Person-Centered Homeless Response System
- Strategy 3 – Improve System Performance Through Program Design: Decrease Inflow and Increase Outflow in the Homelessness System
- Strategy 4 – Improve Data Quality and Reporting: Improve Data Quality, Increase HMIS Coverage, and Report System Performance
- Strategy 5 – Invest in the Future: Increase the Production of/Access to Permanent Housing Solutions
The report calls on leadership from a community planning body – the Continuum of Care Board – to implement recommendations and measure and report out on progress.
Within Reach: Ending Unsheltered Homelessness in the Asheville-Buncombe Continuum of Care
Within Reach: Summary of Recommendations
Thanks to the many community members who 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|
|Completed: 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
Homeless Strategy Division