Charlotte homeless survey finds 4,388 CMS students were without homes in 2014-15

Charlotte homeless survey finds 4,388 CMS students were without homes in 2014-15

CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - A "snapshot" of family homelessness in Mecklenburg County has been compiled by UNC Charlotte's Urban Institute, including observations that many of the families involved in the study were without housing for three to six months at a time.

Among the findings: During the 2014-2015 school year there were 4,388 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students who were homeless or facing housing instability. Some stayed in homeless shelters or extended stay hotels, while others slept in the homes of relatives or in cars.

The report describes the impact of family homelessness on families and children and what it looks like in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

It also outlines the best national strategies to end and prevent family homelessness. Understanding the challenges and long-term effects for families experiencing homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg can help the community find solutions to the problem, officials say.

Much of the data in the report was collected between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015, when almost 2,500 persons in families were reported staying in the county's shelters and transitional housing programs.

"Homelessness has lasting, negative impacts on adults and children, including family separation, poor health outcomes and lower social-emotional and academic well-being," Stacy Lowry, director of Mecklenburg County Community Support Services (CSS). CSS funds the report series which is prepared by the Urban Institute at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

The 2016 Housing Instability & Homelessness Report Series is a collection of local reports designed to better equip our community to make data-informed decisions around housing instability and homelessness. Utilizing local data and research, these reports are designed to provide informative and actionable research to providers, funders, public officials and the media as well as the general population.

A PDF version of the report and an Educational Toolkit are available online here.

Some key points in the report include:

  • The causes of family homelessness include the lack of affordable housing, domestic violence and trauma, poverty, intergenerational transfer of homelessness, and evictions.
  • 29 percent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) students experiencing homelessness in shelter or transitional housing were chronically absent, missing 18 or more days of school. Chronically absent students in CMS that experience sheltered homelessness were 21 percent less likely to be proficient in reading.
  • The odds of a black student experiencing sheltered homelessness being proficient in reading are 50 percent lower than their non-black peers who experienced homelessness.