“When we think of homelessness, we picture someone who is barely surviving in this world. Homelessness is the most visible form of the ways in which our systems fail to support the people who need the most help.” ~ Julie Meiman, CoC Planning Director at Community Alliance for the Homeless
Community Alliance for the Homeless was formed in February of 2010 as a result of a merger between Partners for the Homeless and the Greater Memphis Inter-Agency Coalition for the Homeless (GMICH). Community Alliance for the Homeless is a non-profit agency that leads the effort to end homelessness in Memphis and Shelby County. They coordinate public and private partnerships to create housing and provide services for people experiencing homelessness. As a HUD Continuum of Care lead agency, they ensure that our community receives over $9M a year in federal funding. They use a data-driven approach to find solutions for homelessness and make it a rare, brief, and one-time experience.
Their guiding principles are:
“We believe that housing is a basic human right. We believe that homelessness is a solvable problem. We believe that our community is equipped with resources to impact positive change.”
Community Alliance for the Homeless (CAFTH) supports the ongoing efforts of the Memphis/Shelby County Homeless Consortium, which is composed of representatives from the public and private sectors. The Consortium and CAFTH oversee the “901 Home, Together: Strategic Plan to End Homelessness,” which contains goals and objectives that align with the federal plan to end homelessness as well as the Mayor’s Action Plan for homelessness. CAFTH conducts the annual grant funding process to bring HUD funding into the community, including special funds designated to address youth homelessness.
They serve as the lead agency for data collection around homelessness through management of their Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) database. On a daily basis, CAFTH supports all local agencies who provide direct services to people experiencing homelessness.
CAFTH is gearing up for their annual Point-in-Time Count, happening in January 2023. The Point-in-Time (PIT) Count is an annual count of sheltered and unsheltered homelessness on a single night. It is held toward the end of the month during the hours when unsheltered individuals are most likely to be identified. Required nationally by HUD (Housing and Urban Development), the PIT Count provides a snapshot of homelessness in Memphis and Shelby County at a given point in time, and it is one of several critical elements used for measuring progress in our efforts to end homelessness.
The PIT count provides vital information to help determine the needs of our community. This process allows us to identify and connect people experiencing homelessness to services, understand our progress on ending homelessness and guide our response to serving individuals and families. This process plays a critical role in the CoC competition (aka how much funding for homelessness our community receives). The PIT also gives us the opportunity to increase public awareness about homelessness.
The youth-focused part of the PIT count is planned in collaboration with the Youth Action Board and utilizes different methods than the main PIT count. Youth are historically difficult to identify because many times they experience invisible homelessness which means they are less likely to seek services or less likely to be found in “visible” areas.
Community Alliance for the Homeless cannot conduct the Point in Time Count without the help of over 100 volunteers. This county-wide event requires dozens of volunteers to ensure they are able to reach every person and family in need. There are multiple roles available, including leading an outreach team, checking in other volunteers, assembling outreach kits, and more.
“The event was well organized and supported by volunteers who truly care for the well-being of individuals in their community. I am truly humbled by the experience and look forward to doing more to combat homelessness.”
– 2020 Point-in-Time Count volunteer reflection
Ways to support CAFTH & those experiencing homelessness:
- Volunteer for the annual Point-in-Time Count
- Follow on social media
- Subscribe to their newsletter
- There are multiple ways people can support those experiencing homelessness. The best way to find out more about our local efforts is to become a member of the Memphis/Shelby County Homeless Consortium. See https://www.cafth.org/homeless-consortium/ for more details.