Partnership between United Way of Central Carolinas, City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and Homeless Service Providers Aims to Deliver Help Faster
Homeless service providers, the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and United Way of Central Carolinas today announced a more efficient way to serve the homeless by utilizing United Way’s NC 2-1-1, which provides health and human services information and referrals.
The initiative will improve screening, diversion, and referrals for homeless individuals and families, or those at imminent risk of becoming homeless, and streamline the Coordinated Entry system, a process that connects those in need to an existing available shelter/housing resource in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
Those needing assistance will now be able to get help more quickly by dialing 2-1-1, rather than calling various agencies for information or waiting at one of the three Charlotte-Mecklenburg Coordinated Entry locations.
Available 24/7/365 and fluent in multiple languages, NC 2-1-1’s trained call specialists will facilitate a telephone assessment then direct the caller to available homeless shelter, housing assistance or other community resources. For those callers who have other needs, NC 2-1-1 will also provide additional resources that help them without adding to the shelter backlog.
“Our goal is to provide families in need with immediate support, rather than have them wait in a long line for services they may or may not qualify for,” said Sean Garrett, United Way’s executive director. “NC 2-1-1 is immediate, efficient and will provide us real-time data regarding the needs of callers, which will help us better prioritize our community resources.”
The announcement was made today at Covenant Presbyterian Church to a gathering of housing service providers, government officials, as well as faith community members who have been a key part of serving Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s homeless for many years.
Combining Two Systems for Greater Results
Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Continuum of Care, with the support of United Way of Central Carolinas and a grant from Wells Fargo, implemented the Coordinated Entry process in 2014. As one of the state’s largest funders of the NC 2-1-1 service, United Way of Central Carolinas facilitated the process of bringing Coordinated Entry into the NC 2-1-1 system.
“Coordinated Entry was an innovative approach when we launched it in 2014, and the addition of NC 2-1-1 makes the process even more robust,” said Pamela Wideman, director of the City of Charlotte’s Housing & Neighborhood Services Department. “United Way was a great partner in helping us launch the system three years ago, and we’re grateful for their continued support as we further refine how we serve our neighbors in need.”
NC 2-1-1, which is also available online at nc211.org, is a health and human services information and referral service provided by United Way of North Carolina to all 100 North Carolina counties with the support of 53 local United Ways. NC 2-1-1 responded to 129,091 calls reflecting 144,755 needs in 2016. In addition, 103,943 unique web visits to nc211.org were recorded.
City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County staff trained the NC 2-1-1 call specialists this summer; Salvation Army began directing its callers to dial 2-1-1 in August. The Men’s Shelter of Charlotte and Urban Ministry Center followed suit, and starting this month, all Coordinated Entry service begins with a call to NC 2-1-1.
“For all of us on the front lines in the shelters, it’s frustrating to know there are more people waiting in line for our help than we can ever serve,” said Deronda Metz, director of social services for the Salvation Army’s Center of Hope shelter. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution for serving the homeless, so the breadth of services accessible through NC 2-1-1 is a wonderful improvement in getting people the best possible help.”