April 14, 2015
It’s one of those Duh moments:
Are there people who are homeless? Well, let’s find them a home. Then we won’t have a homeless problem.
Such is the simple but numbingly difficult mission of Housing First, a coalition of Charlotte-based people, agencies and corporations that announced in January a mission to end chronic homelessness by the end of 2016. Dale Mullennix, executive director of the Urban Ministry Center, was their spokesperson at Tuesday’s Forum.
Mullennix, an ordained preacher who has been doing such work for decades, recounted the beginning of the recent coalition-building effort – a highly publicized attempt by downtown business interests to remove the street benches on which homeless people often rest. He built a response to the bench-removal plan by focusing people not on making the homeless go away, but on making homelessness itself go away.
Mullennix’s pitch is part data, part stories. The data is about how much the community saves in medical and other emergency care when the chronically homeless have housing. The stories are successes achieved by individuals with first names. The combination is powerful.
Powerful enough to raise the $11 million needed for the next chapter in the fight against chronic homelessness? Mullennix’s visit coincides with a new fund-raising effort to follow the $11.5 million effort that built Moore Place, pictured above, that houses people once on the streets. While many apartments scattered across the city are being used in the Housing First program, Mullennix suggested that a second facility patterned on Moore Place would be needed.
Videos from Mullennix’s presentation and the Q&A that followed will be posted as they are available. Mullennix shared the speaker’s table with Tom Hanley, principal of the for-profit charter Commonwealth High School.