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While we weren’t able to gather in person this year,  NC Department of Health and Human Services ESG Office, the NC Coalition to End Homelessness, and the NC Housing Coalition held the 2021 Bringing it Home: Ending Homelessness in NC Conference virtually on June 8-9, 2021. A welcome session included special statements from Governor Roy Cooper and NC DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen, and workshop speakers featured leaders in homelessness services across the state and beyond. Nearly 300 attendees participated in the event live. Recordings of all conference sessions are now available for free along with presentation slides and speaker bios.

Opening Session

Tuesday, June 8th

Workshop Breakout 1: 11:00am-12:00pm

Implementing Housing Solutions focused on Individuals, Collaborations and Systems

Deronda Metz, Director of Social Services, Salvation Army Charlotte and Karen Pelletier, Director of Housing Strategy, Innovation, & Alignment, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services

This session discusses housing focused interventions in working with homeless individuals and families, including how to build a homeless system based on the data and the need in the community and using best practices while designing the system specific to the needs of the community. This session highlights sustainable and new collaborations created to leverage resources and expand impact during COVID 19.


Deronda Metz is a native of Charlotte and is committed to serving her community as a leader and advocate on issues of homelessness, affordable housing and poverty.  

Deronda has worked for The Salvation Army for 30 years providing leadership for the agency’s homeless and housing efforts.   Since serving in her current job capacity she has expanded her focus and energy to include a systems approach with addressing the issues of homeless and housing in the community.   Deronda has a Master’s degree in Social Work and is a licensed clinician (LCSW) as well as a licensed addiction specialist.    Deronda has been a consistent partner in compiling the Community’s HUD Continuum of Care grant for more than 20 years, and currently serves on the Mecklenburg County Continuum of Care Governance Group as well as the State Interagency Council to address homelessness.  True to service locally and abroad, Deronda is a dedicated member of The Charlotte Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.   She is a constant voice for those that are homeless on a local and national level and has been involved in several advocacy efforts that has resulted in affordable housing solutions for persons experiencing homelessness.

Karen Pelletier began her social work career after graduating from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work.  She spent the first part of her career in the child welfare arena serving children and families across the spectrum from child protective services and intensive in-home services to working with children living in foster care and group homes.

Ms. Pelletier earned a Master of Social Work from the University of South Carolina at Columbia where she was a member of the Phi Alpha Honor Society.   

As the Division Director of Housing Innovation, Strategy, and Alignment, she develops new programming that focuses on determining and implementing best practices to better serve vulnerable populations, mostly households who are experiencing housing instability and homelessness, such as MeckFUSE and Keeping Families Together.  She leads several community workgroups and most recently was selected to co-lead the Growing Affordable Housing Workstream as part of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing and Homelessness Strategic Initiative. 

 Through COVID, Ms. Pelletier managed multiple programs to support households experiencing housing stability or homelessness, including now serving as project manager for the hotels now serving people who were formally living in the North End encampment.   

Karen is an avid football fan and hopes that, one day, her hometown team, the Detroit Lions, wins a Super Bowl.  In her free time, Ms. Pelletier enjoys the outdoors with her son and their recent rescue dog.  

Lowering Barriers and Providing Housing-Focused Services in Shelter
Brian Alexander and Kevin McNamee, NC Coalition to End Homelessness
Shelters play an essential role in the homeless service system and are key to ending communities’ homelessness. This session focuses on the five key elements of an effective emergency shelter based on the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ work with shelters across the country.  The session provides information on common barriers in shelter, how to make changes to current practices, and ways to operationalize housing-focused case management.


In April 2016, Brian Alexander joined the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness (NCCEH), a statewide membership nonprofit that works to secure resources, encourage public dialogue, and advocate for public policy change to end homelessness. Brian leads the teams administering the NC Balance of State Continuum of Care and the NCCEH Data Center. Brian also currently serves as the Interim Executive Director of NCCEH. Brian has worked in homeless services since 2003. Starting as a front-line worker at Homeward Bound of WNC’s day center, he transitioned to multiple roles within the agency including shelter director, supportive housing case manager, operations director, and finally Executive Director in his final six years. Under his leadership, Homeward Bound evolved from a traditional homeless service agency focused on basic needs to one leading its community in ending homelessness using a Housing First approach.

Kevin McNamee joined the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness in 2019 as a Project Specialist and works on the team staffing the NC Balance of State Continuum of Care. Kevin provides technical assistance and support to providers across the NC BoS CoC and supports equity and governance efforts at the CoC level. Kevin has worked in homelessness services for over 9 years in largely direct practice settings and brings a client centered approach to ending homelessness across North Carolina.

Strategies for Recruiting Landlords
Jessie Figueroa, Homeward Bound of WNC
Recruiting landlords as partners in your work is a critical component to success in assisting families in finding housing. Join us for a discussion about strategies that will help you succeed.


Jessie Figueroa is dedicated to ending homelessness. She started her career as an Americorps VISTA at Homeless Services Network of Central Florida for two years leading a Homeless Speakers Bureau community education program and community outreach event programs such as Project Homeless Connect and Veterans Stand Down. She then moved on to serve as the Program Manager at IDignity for three years, an organization providing identification services to homeless and low income  neighbors. After relocating to Asheville, Jessie led Sales and Business Development teams for private businesses for five years before returning to her passion. She currently serves as the Housing Placement Manager at Homeward Bound of WNC, where she is able to apply her interpersonal skills with landlords to provide housing in the Asheville area.

Wednesday, June 9th

Workshop Breakout 2: 10:00-11:00am

Racial Equity
Nastacia’ Moore, C4 Innovations; Kevin McNamee, NC Coalition to End Homelessness;  Dr. LaTonya Penny, Family Abuse Services of Alamance County; Jeffrey Rawlings, Johnston Lee Harnett Community Action Center
This session includes an overview of historical and systemic racism that has led to a health and housing crisis for people of color. The session provides an example of one CoC’s journey to advance racial equity and inclusion within the homelessness system. The NC Balance of State CoC shares their efforts, the challenges faced, and lessons learned to help other communities think about how to fully incorporate equity efforts in their everyday practices.


Nastacia’ Moore provides training and technical assistance supporting eight Continuums of Care and other communities across the country in developing systems-level responses to historical racial inequity. In addition to working with C4, Ms. Moore works on HUD’s regional teams to provide support to CoC’s strategic priority areas, outcomes, and equity analysis. Prior to joining C4, Nastacia’ was the lead HMIS trainer for the Indiana Balance of State where she trained providers on HUD’s new data standards, policies and procedures, lead the Point in Time (PIT) count, and monitored system performance measures across 92 counties. She also monitored federal awards for HOPWA grantees and HOME TBRA re- entry grantees and acted as Indiana’s SOAR state lead for SAMHSA. Nastacia’ was also the former Program Manager of a Permanent Supportive Housing program site based and scattered site for families in Dayton, OH where she oversaw case managers, facilitated leases and landlord contracts, and conducted HQS inspections. Nastacia’ received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Dayton.

Kevin McNamee joined the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness in 2019 as a Project Specialist and works on the team staffing the NC Balance of State Continuum of Care. Kevin provides technical assistance and support to providers across the NC BoS CoC and supports equity and governance efforts at the CoC level. Kevin has worked in homelessness services for over 9 years in largely direct practice settings and brings a client centered approach to ending homelessness across North Carolina.

Dr. LaTonya N. McIver Penny is a native of Leasburg, North Carolina and is the daughter of Tony and Phyllis McIver. After graduating from Person High School, she continued her education at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications. Dr. Penny earned her Master of Arts Degree in Teaching from East Carolina University and her Master of Divinity Degree from Wake Forest University. In 2019, she successfully defended her dissertation earning her Doctorate in Ministry from Campbell University.

Dr. Penny was voted as pastor elect in November 2014 for New Mount Zion Baptist Church in Roxboro, NC and accepted the position. She began her journey as Senior Pastor on December 14, 2014.

Dr. Penny took leadership of Family Abuse Services of Alamance County, Incorporated in August 2017. Her desire was to shift the agency to meet the holistic needs of those impacting by intimate partner violence by including, education, emergency shelter, counseling and access to permanent housing. She believes in doing the hard work and taking on the difficult conversations pertaining to able-ism, racism, ageism and other conversations that pertain to marginalized identities. Dr. Penny believes in shattering glass ceilings and ripping down barriers to create spaces of inclusion and belonging.

Dr. Penny believes that all children are in the “imago Dei”, the image of God, and should be treated with love, honor and respect. She is actively involved in many organizations pertaining to children with disabilities and the fair treatment of children. In 2013, Dr. Penny launched her nonprofit Mary’s Grace Incorporated, named after her maternal grandmother, Mary Stanfield, which creates programs and ministries of inclusion for persons with disabilities and their families, in churches and communities. She travels the country equipping churches with skills to include those with disabilities.

Dr. Penny is married to Minister Charles W. Penny II who actively serves in ministry with her and they are the proud parents of miracle twins, Taylor and Hunter.

Jefferey Rawlings began attending NC State University in the fall of 1984. After moving to off campus housing in 1986 he found himself homeless and living in his car. After several months of private struggle, he secured housing and resumed his studies at Phillips College receiving a degree in Computer Science. After graduation, he worked for 20+ years in the IT support field.

However in 2008, feeling life had more to it than IT support, he left the field to pursue a more “meaningful” path.  He began working with a Raleigh based faith based nonprofit serving persons experiencing poverty and homelessness.  He worked as an instructor in the Jobs for Life program and served as a community outreach lead.  In 2017, he joined Johnston Lee Harnett Community Action as a Crisis Intervention counselor and later a Rapid Re-Housing case manager.

Jefferey is currently the Region 7 Coordinated Entry Lead,  a NC Balance of State Steering committee member, a Racial Equity sub-committee member, co-chair of the NC BoS Consumer Advisory council and is the Projects Director and a founding board member of Victims Advocates Support Services of North Carolina (VASS of NC).

Ed Boyte, The Listening Group, LLC
This session focuses on how agencies use flexible and progressive assistance to give clients the support they need while using agency resources more efficiently.  Diversion approaches limit the amount of time that clients spend in homeless systems and preserve agencies’ limited resources for clients who have no other options.  Participants explore approaches for identifying safe housing options within client’s own networks and using client’s own resources through respectful, nuanced assessment conversations.


Ed Boyte is the founder of The Listening Group, LLC., which consults, coaches and trains communities on conflict resolution, housing problem solving, and client-centered, strength-based interactions.  He is the former organizational ombuds at Cleveland Clinic, where he provided confidential support and conflict resolution services to 5500 employees at Cleveland Clinic Akron General. Previously he was assistant director of Cleveland Mediation Center for 15 years. 

Incorporating diversity, inclusion, and equity is a priority in his work. He is a former co-chair of Cleveland Clinic Pride and served on the Diversity Council. He taught Bridges out of Poverty, LGBT Inclusion, and Autism Awareness for HealthCare Workers. He is a certified trainer in Intercultural Developmental Inventory. At Cleveland Mediation Center he organized and led public forums on public safety, the community, and policing, and conducted listening groups of those experiencing homelessness. A vital part of Ed’s client-centered approach to training staff and working with clients is consistent input and feedback from people we serve, and an eagerness to change our work to fully support and empower communities.   

Ed has mediated hundreds of community, family, business, and organizational disputes.  As a trainer he has taught mediation, conflict resolution, divorce mediation, as well as domestic abuse issues for family mediators for the Ohio Supreme Court. Ed applied conflict resolution principles to homeless diversion which became known nationally as the Cleveland Model of Diversion and Housing Problem Solving.  He has spoken at several National Alliance to End Homelessness and statewide conferences, and has consulted and trained dozens of communities around the country as they implement client-centered programs to end homelessness. Communities he trained and consulted with include Anchorage, Juneau, Omaha, Traverse City, Detroit, Columbus, Balance of State Texas (7 communities), North Carolina, South Carolina, Connecticut, Seattle, Tacoma, Bucks and Montgomery Co. PA, Salt Lake City, Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Diego, Manhattan, Delaware, and the District of Columbia.

Let’s Spend: Creative Ways to spend Your ESG CV Funds
Lisa Worth, Chris Battle and Alissa Pritchett, NC DHHS ESG Office, video appearances from current grantees
This session provides an opportunity to hear from ESG office staff about creative ways that ESG CV funds can and have been spent around the state. This session features video appearances from agencies that have been creative with their ESG funds to meet the needs of the populations they are serving.


Lisa Worth began as the ESG Homeless Programs Coordinator in February of 2019.  Her previously roles include serving as Program Director for a psychiatric rehabilitation facility, Program Director for a mental health center, Psychology Monitor for a State Mental Health Hospital, and Case Manager for a veteran’s rapid rehousing program. Lisa has a Master’s degree in General Psychology from Northern Arizona University and over 20 years of experience in the mental health, homeless, and social services fields. She has worked for state government and non-profit agencies with a primary focus on mental health, housing, employment, and general case management. She also has experience in Continuum of Care leadership, grant writing, chart auditing, and program management.

Chris Battle is the ESG Homeless Programs Coordinator for the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS).  As Homeless Programs Coordinator Chris provides program coordination, monitoring and technical assistance for North Carolina’s federal HUD Emergency Solutions Grant.  Prior to joining the NC DHHS, Chris served 15 years as Executive Director of a private non-profit, serving the homeless and nearly homeless population of Nash and Edgecombe Counties.  During his tenure as Executive Director Chris secured over 4 million dollars in Federal and State grant funding providing grant management and oversight ensuring program compliance.  Serving as the community CoC lead for 8 years, Chris played an integral role in the development and implementation of multiple innovative Permanent Supportive Housing and Rapid Rehousing programs. Chris worked tirelessly leading efforts within the community facilitating a gradual shift towards progressive engagement and a housing focused approach in addressing homelessness, becoming a “champion” for change while pursuing his never-ending quest to end homelessness in eastern North Carolina.    

Alissa Pritchett joined the NC ESG office as a Homeless Programs Coordinator in November of 2020. Her role as Homeless Programs Coordinator is to provide technical assistance a review  Prior to joining the ESG office, Alissa worked at Family Promise of Wake County. During her time at Family Promise, she served in various roles, eventually serving as the Program Manager for their shelter, rapid rehousing, and transitional housing programs. Alissa has her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Campbell University. During her time at Campbell, Alissa completed her internship at another local shelter.

Workshop Breakout 3: 11:15-12:15

Street Outreach: Engagement and Beyond
Trisha Ecklund, Paramedic; Hamer Carter and Laura Spivey, Outreach Mission
This session focuses on how agencies can use street outreach to connect people living unsheltered to needed services and permanent housing.  This session provides ways in which programs should engage people living on the streets safely and appropriately and use housing-focused case management to connect people to long-term housing resources. The session features two successful NC agencies, considering street outreach in urban and rural settings and sharing ways to approach outreach efforts and lessons learned.


Trisha Ecklund is a licensed Paramedic and currently the Vulnerable Population Program Coordinator for Blue Ridge Health Services located in WNC. Trisha has been with BRH for 10 years and has a passion to serve the most vulnerable in the community. She also serves as the regional Point- in-Time lead for the NC BoS CoC. Eager to learn new innovative strategies she used her creativity during the worst of the pandemic to find funding sources to develop and begin operating the Street Outreach Program at Blue Ridge Health. Trisha also served as the clinical oversight for the local Isolation and Quarantine hotel funded through FEMA to facilitate a safe place to isolate for Covid positive patients experiencing homelessness.

Hamer Carter is the President of the Board of Directors for Outreach Mission of Sanford NC. He is married with two kids and five grandchildren, and a member of Lemon Springs United Methodist Church in Lemon Springs, NC. Hamer retired from Progress Energy in 2013 after working 32 years in their Nuclear Operations and Construction Department. His background is in Nuclear Operations, Reactor Operator Training, Project
Management, and Nuclear Plant Construction. Hamer worked with Habitat for Humanity and Christmas in April projects before becoming involved in Outreach Mission, Inc. He has been a volunteer, Board of Director member, Vice-President and currently the President of the Board of Directors. Hamer is currently working with a group of excited, passionate people who are focused on expanding services for the homeless community through “out of the box” thinking.

Laura Spivey is the Vice President of the Board of Directors for Outreach Mission of Sanford NC. She is married with two daughters ages 16 and 14, and she is a member of First Baptist Church of Sanford, NC. She has been the Public Works Administrator for the City of Sanford since 2003 to present. Laura has a BS in Business Management from the College of Management with a minor in Human Resource Management from NC State University. She previously worked for Carolina Power and Light, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Coty LLC and the City of Sanford. Laura has been a volunteer, Board of Director member, Treasurer, and currently Vice President of theBoard of Directors for Outreach Mission, Inc. since July 2017.

Shared Housing
Kris Freed, LA Family Housing
The lack of affordable housing continues to be a barrier to getting people experiencing homelessness housed quickly. This session focuses on an emerging best practice, Shared Housing, that uses specific tools to match people together who can live and stabilize together in permanent housing.  This session provides essential pieces that providers need to incorporate into their Shared Housing policies and procedures to ensure success for people served by the program.  The session features expert advice and lessons learned from Kris Freed from LA Family Housing which has operated a successful Shared Housing program model for the last few years.


Kris Freed oversees all of our homeless programs operations, diving deep into our programs, contracts and regulations, and shaping our new team structure during this time of incredible growth. Informed by more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit homeless service sector, she specializes in designing homeless services with an emphasis on coordinating service delivery across multiple systems. Kris leverages her analytical and managerial skills to effectively manage millions of dollars in budget and contractual requirements. Under her leadership, LA Family Housing has expanded programming to support a dramatic increase in supportive services and housing over the past three years.

Kris was also integrally involved in the development, implementation and roll-out of the Coordinated Entry System (CES) for Families in Los Angeles and actively sits at several policy tables including the Continuum of Care Board to ensure that we are designing policies that align to the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors.  Kris often conducts local and national trainings on program design, service delivery, and implementation strategies. She holds a BA in Sociology and a Master’s in Public Administration from California State University, Northridge.

“Ending homelessness is achievable. No child should ever be without a safe, decent place to call home.”

Policy Update
Pamela Atwood, NC Housing Coalition
With a new administration in the White House, and new resources for housing and homelessness services approved by Congress, there is much to talk about. Join us and learn the latest from Washington D.C. and Jones Street.


Having worked with housing and land use from multiple perspectives and at macro and micro levels, Pamela Atwood is passionate about the importance of housing stability and the numerous ways access to it shapes our individual and collective opportunities. Pamela comes to the Coalition with a background in policy advocacy, sustainable development, urban planning and real estate. Pamela began her career as a policy analyst with the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing, advocating for policies to reduce financing and land use barriers to the development and preservation of affordable housing. Pamela’s resume also includes working with Global Green USA to assist local governments and public agencies across the country to develop and implement sustainable design and construction policies and criteria. Along with her public policy experience, Pamela has worked as a project coordinator/LEED AP with a boutique real estate development firm in Los Angeles and as a real estate broker in Maine, New Hampshire, and North Carolina. Pamela has a B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where she studied Public Policy and Psychology. She is also a LEED Accredited Professional (BD+C) and holds a full real estate broker’s license in North Carolina.

Many thanks to our sponsors