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August 8, 2008
DSS Re-Organization Plan
In her first 30 days as Mecklenburg County's Social Services Department (DSS) Director, Mary Wilson has taken various steps to learn about the status of the department. This has included meeting one-on-one with DSS staff, community partners, judges, County department leaders, political and executive leaders from the towns, and members of the Board of County Commissioners. She also has conducted intensive briefings with the DSS Senior Executive Team (SET).
As a result of this initial fact-finding period, DSS is shifting its strategic focus to break down silos of management and information that exist within the department and to capitalize on opportunities both internal and external to DSS, such as technology, training, staffing, communication, and community outreach.
This shift is predicated on several factors. These factors include changes in economic conditions, consolidation, and centralization of support services that have occurred over the last eight years throughout County government, and finally the culture of collaboration that has proliferated in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community among the public, private, and non-profit sectors and the Mecklenburg residents.
As a result of this shift, DSS will be undergoing significant change in the structure and delivery of services while maintaining accountability for state mandates. This change will include modifying the functional responsibilities of DSS executive leadership and transferring services and functions within DSS. We will attempt to maintain employment for all DSS employees.
In addition, DSS will be reviewing its current partnerships, collaborations and outsourced services to ensure efficient and effective delivery of services to DSS customers, many of whom are the most economically and physically challenged citizens of our community. DSS will be casting the widest net possible in reaching out to current and potential community partners and vendors for delivery of services. Because much of this initial re-organization is internal in nature, DSS customers should not be adversely impacted.
This shift will enable the County to more effectively and efficiently meet the state's goals for the services administered by DSS and the Board's 2015 Community Vision, especially the desired results for increasing the safety and security of residents and increasing citizen self-sufficiency. For additional information, please contact DSS Director Mary Wilson at (704) 336-6279.

Update on Homeless
The Mecklenburg County Community Support Services Department ( CSS) and the County Manager's Office have joined forces with the City of Charlotte, Center City Partners, and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department to develop a plan to help feed the uptown homeless population.
For several years, hundreds of homeless people have made their way to "The Wall" to receive meals prepared by local churches and various outreach ministries. "The Wall" is a concrete fence just in front of the County's Hal Marshall Center on Phifer Street.
On any given day, depending upon the weather and other factors, there could be 50 to 300 people waiting for meals. There is little to no coordination of the effort, just the genuine desire of some well-intentioned people to be of service to the homeless.
Amid extensive plans for developing and revitalizing the area, the feeding effort has become somewhat controversial. Property owners in this area have complained that the unstructured, unofficial meal program has contributed to littering, disorderly conduct, drug sales, destruction of property, panhandling, and public urination.
To address these concerns, and to remain consistent with the goals and current initiatives in the County's 10-Year Plan for Ending Homelessness, the aforementioned coalition has agreed to identify a more appropriate location for feeding this homeless population. In addition, the coalition also made plans to address the following:
  • Central coordination – identifying an "owner" -- of the volunteer process and schedules
  • Developing common procedures for all providers to ensure order
  • Establishing accountability for crowd control and clean-up
County staff involved in this effort anticipates having an alternative location selected within the next 45 days, and a process for coordination. Board members will be updated on this progress as we move forward. For additional information, please contact General Manager Janice Allen Jackson at (704) 336-2086.
- Harry L. Jones, Sr., County Manager

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