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Getting the Community Involved January 11, 2012

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Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day

Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day was held on December 21, 2011 – this was a very special time to honor those who experience homelessness.  Our community united together at Haywood Street Congregation to remember those who have died while experiencing homelessness in the past year, support those who currently experience homelessness, and commit to ending homelessness for all.

The contributions of many people made the service memorable, so thank you to everyone who participated. Even if you were unable to attend this year’s service, there are many opportunities ahead to be involved with the Homeless Initiative’s efforts.

Community-Wide Involvement

Participants and sponsors for the following events represent hundreds of people and groups with different creeds, resources, and goals, all of whom are committed to ending homelessness in our community:

  • Faith Summit
  • Homeless Coalition
  • Homeless Initiative
  • Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day
  • Homeless Summit
  • Project Connect & VA Stand Down
  • VA Summit

To learn more about our past and upcoming events and projects, or to contact us about sponsoring an event, please visit our website.

Want to volunteer?

Facts about homelessness.

@MountainXpress

Housing for All – The 2011 Homeless Summit March 15, 2011

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On Thursday, March 24 the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative will host its annual Homeless Summit.

HOUSING FOR ALL: A PLAN IN MOTION

March 24, 2011

8:30am – 4:30pm

Masonic Temple, 80 Broadway Street

Asheville, North Carolina

The Summit, called Housing for All: A Plan in Motion, is open to all members of the Asheville-Buncombe community. The goal of the Summit is to provoke an energetic discussion between agencies, faith groups, business owners, college students and faculty, people experiencing homelessness and all other members of our community that will lead to strategic steps we take as we continue to make a true impact on homelessness in our community.

The Summit will provide an opportunity to discuss the Homeless Initiative’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness and our community’s goals for the future as we look at where we’ve come and where we’re going in our efforts to end homelessness. We hope you can join us for the whole day but if not, we’d love for you to come when you can!

Housing for All: A Plan in Motion Summit agenda:

Sign-In, 8:30AM

Morning Presentations

Opening and Welcome: Asheville City Council

A System in Transition: Opening Doors, the Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness, Denise Neunber, Executive Director of the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness

Asheville’s 10-Year Plan: Looking in the Rearview Mirror, Checking for Blind Spots, and Hitting the Gas, David Nash, Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee Chair, and Robin Merrell, Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee Member

Housing First Works: The Story of the Chronic Homeless Team, Chronic Homeless Team Participants

Lunch:

Learning in Context: Summit Participants will have a chance to meet local service providers and people who have experienced homelessness.

Leadership Lunch: Community leaders will hold a strategic dialogue to discuss how to meet the goals of the 10-Year Plan and Opening Doors.

Afternoon Breakout Sessions, highlights include:

  • Anishnawbe Health: A Story of Successful Street Outreach in Toronto, Canada
  • Nourishing the Spirit: Faith & Homelessness
  • Past and Future: UNC Asheville’s Collaborations with the Community on Understanding and Preventing Homelessness
  • The Power of the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS)
  • SOAR – Accessing SSI/SSDI means income and housing stablity for people with disablities
  • Opening Doors and Implementing 10-Year Plans Across the State
  • Follow-Up from Last Year’s Summit: Circles & Hope to Home Programs
  • Ending the Cycle: Jail Diversion and Crisis Intervention Training
  • Zoning! Knowing where to build, sell, and devleop.
  • A deeper look at the Chronic Homeless Team

Closing Comments – 3:30PM

Registration is $15 and includes lunch. *Scholarships are available, indicate your need during registration.

Click here to register or contact Katherine McCrory at 828.259.5733.

We’ll see you all at there!

Data Counts! The 2011 Point in Time Count January 25, 2011

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You may have heard that 600 individuals experience homelessness on any given night in our community. Have you ever wondered where that figure comes from?

This number reflects an estimate derived from the annual Point in Time Count. This year the count takes place on Wednesday, January 26th. Staff from homeless agencies, volunteers, and people who are experiencing homelessness will work together to count everyone who is homeless or at risk of homelessness on the night of January 26th.

In addition to shelters and other housing programs, the Buncombe County Department of Social Services, Buncombe County Jail, police from Asheville, Montreat, Biltmore Forest, Black Mountain, Woodfin, and Weaverville, the Mission Hospital, the Charles George VA Medical Center, United Way’s 2-1-1, and agencies that provide crisis services to people in our community will help with the count.

Data collected during the count includes demographic information, causes of homelessness, where people are sleeping, and information about chronic homelessness, veteran status, and other subpopulation data. The count will include individuals and families staying outside, in shelters, and in other housing programs for people experiencing homelessness.

This year, the count will take extra care to include unaccompanied children and families, as well as people who are at risk of homelessness, including those experiencing:

  • Imminent Homelessness – An individual or family who is currently housed and is being evicted, asked to leave or needs to leave for another reason and who is expected to lose their housing within a week and lacks the resources to obtain or maintain housing.
  • Precarious Housing – An individual or family who is currently housed and is being evicted, asked to leave, or needs to leave for another reason and may or may not have the resources needed to obtain or maintain housing.

Asheville-Buncombe’s Point in Time Count is part of a national count. The Point in Time Count process will be used as the primary data source for federal agencies to understand homelessness trends and track progress against the goals and objectives contained in Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness. Additionally, the Congressionally-mandated Annual Homeless Assessment Report is prepared using Point in Time and Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data.

Throughout the year, data is collected by agencies in Asheville-Buncombe using HMIS. Agencies with accurate and valid data in the system will be able to pull their Point in Time Count from HMIS. This is a significant step forward for our community because it means that data in the HMIS system is now sufficient for evaluation and reporting.

We place a lot of importance on data collection and for good reason! The 10-Year Plan depends on accurate, timely data to inform our decisions and help us understand how effective our actions have been. The Point in Time Count is one of several measures (we’ll be looking at these later on) our community uses to evaluate homelessness and evaluate trends that we can respond to.

We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the results of this year’s Point in Time Count!  And remember! Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Homeless dialogue based on The Soloist November 17, 2010

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2010's National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week is November 14-20. As part of the scheduled events, participants attended a discussion at Malaprop's Bookstore and Cafe about the book The Soloist by Steve Lopez.

More than 10 agency representatives, community members and people experiencing homelessness came out for the community book discussion based on The Soloist by Steve Lopez at Malaprop’s Bookstore and Café on November 16, 2010.

The book discussion was held as part of the scheduled events for National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week (November 14-20). The week is designed to raise awareness of homelessness in order to dispel myths that homelessness is someone else’s problem and to help people learn about how to join in the community’s work to end homelessness.

The Soloist is a book about a journalist who meets a talented musician who is experiencing homelessness, the relationship they form and the challenges they face as the musician struggles to find and maintain housing. By reading a common book, everyone had a similar framework with which to begin a conversation about homelessness and hunger. We couldn’t have been more pleased at how this worked out! The conversation began around some of the themes of The Soloist and quickly turned into a remarkable exchange of ideas, stories and experiences.

Ending homelessness is a collaborative effort and events like the book discussion promote community-wide dialogue, create approaches and vital insights from a diverse group of people.

During the book discussion, many participants expressed the need for more one-on-one interactions between people from all walks of life as a way to minimize isolation and mistrust and create more comprehensive, effective responses. This need has also been a topic at the Homeless Initiative as we try to find creative ways to bring people together to develop networks of support and action that alleviate the impact homelessness has on everyone in the community.

Recently we’ve explored using social media as a tool to bridge communication gaps. Participants in the discussion suggested that social media could be used to share the stories and experiences of people experiencing homelessness to a much wider audience and, by doing so, help to combat the many myths that surround homelessness and set the stage for a more comprehensive and productive dialogue about how we can end homelessness.

National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week isn’t over yet! UNCA is holding a food drive all this week to benefit the Family Resource Center at Emma and tomorrow at 7pm in the UNCA Humanities Lecture Hall is a FREE screening of The Soloist. Hope to see you all there!

The Homeless Initiative cannot do what we do without your participation and input. If you have an idea for an event, how to get people involved or if you want to learn more generally, please contact us. We love hearing from you! You can also learn more about the going’s on at the Homeless Initiative by checking out our Facebook page.

Calendar of events for National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week November 9, 2010

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For communities across the country, November 14th-20th is National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week!  Join us for dialogue, a food drive, a movie, and a community-read of The Soloist by Steve Lopez.

Below is a calendar of upcoming events:

November 9, 5PM, City Hall (2nd Floor) City Council Proclaims that November 14-20, 2010 is National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week in Asheville, NC.

November 14-20, UNCA Campus Food Drive – all food will be donated to the Emma Family Resource Center

November 16, 3PM, Malaprops Bookstore Community read-in and discussion of The Soloist by Steve Lopez.

November 16, 5:30pm, Gladfelter Building, Warren Wilson College Looking Homeward: 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness Panel Discussion

November 17, 7pm, UNCA Justice Center UNCA Women’s Basketball Game and Food Drive, tickets start at $6 for general admission.

November 18, 7pm, UNCA Humanities Lecture Hall Movie screening of The Soloist. FREE! Food Donations welcome.

Communities use National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness week to promote existing efforts to end hunger and homelessness while engaging the community in a dialogue that can lead to greater awareness and collaboration.

This year the theme is “Bringing America Home” so we’re asking people like you to bring a book home to learn about homelessness and then join us for community events to learn how you can join us ensuring that everyone has a safe, decent, affordable place to call home.

We would love to have you, your colleagues, and your family participate in some of the events scheduled for the week.  Or, if you’re near a Buncombe County, AB Tech, UNCA, or Warren Wilson Library, stop in and ask the librarian about homelessness – they’re ready for you!

Project Connect 2010 Update October 29, 2010

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An excellent program …. Moved me to do more.”

On September 10, 2010 the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative, in collaboration with the VA Stand Down, held the 4th annual Project Homeless Connect. This year was our best event yet!

Project Connect brings community-wide agencies together to provide services, information, and outreach to people experiencing homelessness or at risk of experiencing homelessness in order to provide them with the system of care that will help them move into or maintain stable housing.

“It was great to see so many people working together to help homeless people.”

For Asheville and Buncombe County, a community which prides itself on collaborating for the greater good and doing so in innovative ways, Project Connect is a perfect fit. The event not only helps people access housing, but is an opportunity for much more – it

  • Allows us to join together as a community to answer the needs of our neighbors,
  • Provides a space for innovation and creativity,
  • Fosters networking and collaboration among providers, businesses, faith groups and community members,
  • Offers a positive experience for everyone that is carried beyond the event,
  • Opens doors, creating new partnerships as we work together to end homelessness,
  • Honors the spirit of collaboration through our partnership with the VA Stand Down, a veteran-specific event that mirrors Project Connect.

“This is a truly rewarding experience. I appreciate the opportunity to participate. I think this is an event that everyone in our community would benefit from attending.”

Our collaboration and creativity allowed us to reach over 200  participants, 177 of which were documented in our HMIS database.

We couldn’t have done it without the efforts of over 65 volunteers, including 12 AmeriCorps and RSVP SeniorCorps volunteers who worked to help more than 50 community agencies represented at the event.

Project Connect was able to provide participants with services and supports such as: bus tickets that helped people get to and from the event and to follow-up appointments, housing information & applications, financial assistance, HIV & pregnancy tests, vision screenings,  foot care, substance abuse & mental health counseling, voter registration, haircuts, legal advice, employment & educational guidance, and pet care.

Furthermore, in an effort to support the City’s commitment to sustainability, all dining materials were recyclable and purchased from a local green vendor!

A special thank you to the participating agencies!

Feedback from participants:

“After talking with a teenage volunteer, he mentioned that his father is homeless. The young person expected to see his father at the event, hoping he knew about the services being offered. I had no idea that he had a close family member who was part of the homeless community. Just goes to show that homelessness can affect anyone and it’s even in places you might not expect.”

“I think what hit me again this year was the difficulty I had in differentiating participants from those volunteering and providing services. There is something about the change in terminology from homeless people to people experiencing homelessness that takes the labeling away. While I understand the need to categorize sometimes, homeless people sounds more like a charity perspective for people who are not like me, while people experiencing homelessness gives me the sense that people like me are having a challenge.”

Thank you again to everyone who turned out for Project Connect 2010! Your ongoing efforts to serve our community and end homelessness in Asheville and Buncombe County are deeply appreciated.

Interested in helping with Project Connect 2011? Want to learn more about the Homeless Initiative? Want to volunteer at other events? Visit our website for more information on how to contact us!

You can see images of Project Connect 2010 on our Facebook page and on our Flikr account.

Participating Agencies for Project Connect 2010 October 29, 2010

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“I was so impressed with the Service providers that were there and how much they truly wanted to help people.” -Project Connect participant

Thank you to all the agencies at Project Connect!

A special thank you to:

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