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Buncombe Commissioners Join Asheville City Council to Hear Progress on Strategies to Address Homelessness

a night skyline of Asheville NC

On Dec. 4, City of Asheville and Buncombe County staff presented updates on five key strategies to address homelessness:

  1. Create a strong foundation – support systems-level planning and coordination
  2. Implement evidence-based and inclusive policy – create an equitable, person-centered homelessness response system
  3. Improve system performance through program design – decrease inflow and increase outflow in the homelessness system
  4. Data and reporting – improve data quality, increase Homeless Management Information System coverage, and report system performance
  5. Invest in the future – increase the production of and access to permanent housing solutions

These recommendations come from the National Alliance to End Homelessness as presented to Council members and Commissioners in January. Utilizing a Continuum of Care model, the “Within Reach. Ending Unsheltered Homelessness in Asheville-Buncombe CoC” report outlined recommendations to reduce homelessness in Buncombe County by 50% in two years. Frequently referred to by the acronym “CoC,” the Continuum of Care model promotes communitywide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness with nonprofit and government funding, while working quickly to rehouse homeless individuals. This model seeks to shorten the trauma and dislocation so that access to support programs increases, and individuals experiencing homelessness can become self-sufficient sooner.

A Continuum of Care has three major responsibilities: operating the CoC, designating and operating a Homeless Management Information System, and conducting planning for the area’s homelessness response system.

With regard to priority one – creating a strong foundation – restructuring the CoC has been the top priority, and that process is currently underway. Nearly all of the eight priorities and 32 action steps have been completed. Membership development of the CoC is underway now and open to any individual or organization in Buncombe County with an interest in taking action to understand and address homelessness. Applications are available here.

The second priority – implementing evidence-based and inclusive policy – has begun through many concurrent efforts across the system and community. While the new CoC will help build capacity in this space, it will also help ensure representation in the leadership model. This priority contains five short-term steps, 10 medium-term steps, and two long-term steps, and of all of those, seven are in progress or completed.

The third priority – improve system performance through program design – outlined how the City and County have funded increased shelter capacity through December of 2024. Beyond that, the shelter team is undertaking a planning process to look at long-term options that may include seeking City and County support for shelter expansion. This priority includes 10 priorities and 40 action steps. Further progress is contingent on adoption of a new CoC structure.

During the discussion of the third priority, Claire Hubbard, Buncombe County Community Paramedic Program Manager, provided an update on outreach. In the three years since the Buncombe County Community Paramedic team launched, they have:

  • Helped 158 individuals start medication assisted treatment
  • Helped 132 individuals move to outpatient medication assisted treatment providers
  • Had a 71% retention rate of patients keeping up their appointments for medication assisted treatment
  • Averaged 100 patients weekly utilizing community paramedic services for medical case management including locating prescriptions, COVID testing, pregnancy testing, transport to medical appointments, and more
  • Facilitated 1,148 peer support sessions

The fourth strategy – data and reporting – outlined how improvements to data have a snowball effect, making data increasingly meaningful and informative. The System Performance Committee will have a key role in shaping data governance and building out the utility of the Homeless Management Information System. The strategy has two priorities and five action steps, one of which is in progress and will be ongoing.

The final strategy – invest in the future – recognized the new permanent supportive housing units that came online in 2023 as well as permanent housing units and rapid rehousing that will come online in 2024. With permanent housing being the end-goal for the CoC, the strategy relies on creating pathways for housing, regardless of how a person enters the continuum.

Next steps: The Board of Commissioners will continue to receive regular updates from staff and representatives from the Continuum of Care. This update comes as the County is beginning its FY25 budget process.

Click here to read “Within Reach. Ending Homelessness in the Asheville-Buncombe Coc.” To watch the joint meeting, click here. The full presentation is attached.


Table: News Item Documents
File NameSizeTypeDate & Time Added
Full presentation 1 MB 12/04/2023 6:53 PM

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Updated Dec 08, 2023 03:34 PM
Published Dec 04, 2023 06:47 PM

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