Roof Above believes homelessness is solvable. It is not an inevitable reality.
How we end homelessness
We believe that home is critical to provide safety, stability, and dignity in people’s lives. Each day, we serve 1,200 people in our community –half we serve through our homeless services, and half are formerly homeless served through our housing programs.
It’s not just about what we do but how we do it. Our approach is personal; relationships drive our services and help to heal the trauma of homelessness. We strive to honor the profound worth of each life, and for our work to reflect that belief.
Lowering Barriers to Service
Our supportive housing programs have very few prerequisites. Low barriers often enable us to build relationships with people who may be hesitant to trust others and offer vital services to people who need them.
Our services are specifically designed with no, or very low, barriers to getting help. For instance, our soup kitchen at our Day Services Center provides meals to anyone at our door. Our year-round emergency shelters do not require photo identification.
Involving the Community
We work to include a volunteer component in nearly all we do, and we rely heavily on the community to help us serve people experiencing homelessness. These services and volunteers create a foundation of relationships and a caring community to help end homelessness for our neighbors.
Engaging the community in providing these services creates an understanding that’s hard to develop without first-hand knowledge. The community begins to understand that being homeless is just a situation, and our neighbors experiencing homelessness often lack the personal network of support or resources necessary to change their situation.
Using Best Practices
Roof Above approaches our work with both head and heart. We believe research can tell us critical information to help our work be more impactful. One of our key approaches is the adoption of the evidence-based Housing First model.
Housing First recognizes the fundamental need of housing for all people, regardless of barriers, and believes that providing the stability of housing first, and then surrounding tenants with appropriate supports, is the best way to help people work towards personal goals and improve quality of life.
This results in great outcomes for the tenants and more efficient use of resources for our community, with decreased reliance on crisis services like the ER, hospital stays, detox, and jail.
Focusing on Outcomes
We believe homelessness should be rare, brief, and one-time. These three outcomes tell us if we’re succeeding in our mission:
- The number of individuals moving into housing
- The average length of time it takes someone to move from homelessness to housing
- How many people return to homelessness within 2 years of obtaining housing
Ending homelessness is a bold and complex undertaking. In April 2019, Urban Ministry Center and Men’s Shelter of Charlotte merged to become Roof Above. By combining our talent, services, and resources, we believe we have an even greater capacity to end homelessness than we would operating independently.
Urban Ministry Center focused on serving unsheltered neighbors through the Day Services Center and intensive housing solutions. Men’s Shelter of Charlotte focused on in-between needs — emergency shelter and short-term housing solutions. Through the merger, we created an entire continuum for individuals experiencing homelessness.