North Texas partnership aims to provide shelter to half of Dallas County’s homeless
With over 4,000 homeless people in Dallas County, a multimillion-dollar partnership announced Wednesday aims to shelter more than half the city’s homeless population by 2023.
The city of Dallas and Dallas County will partner with Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, DHA Housing Solutions for North Texas, Mesquite, Grand Prairie and the Homeless Collaborative on the initiative, which is poised to be the largest collective investment in North Texas to address the issue.
The initiative will total about $70 million, with Dallas County and the city of Dallas contributing $25 million each to the effort. DHA, Dallas County, and Mesquite will each contribute $10 million worth of vouchers, and philanthropic contributions will contribute another $10 million.
The City Council also on Wednesday approved nearly $9 million in contracts to about half a dozen nonprofits to keep helping the homeless.
“Too many people, particularly African Americans, experience homelessness in our city and in our region,” said Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson. “This problem has been growing for many years, and it is clear that we have to act now to address the myriad causes of homelessness and implement short-term and long-term solutions that provide people with stability and pathways to better lives.”
The February point-in-time count by the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, which aims to develop an effective homeless rehousing system in Dallas and Collin counties, found that about 4,100 individuals in Dallas County were experiencing homelessness.
In 2019, MDHA housed 140 veterans experiencing homelessness in 100 days, and last year, council member Chad West, who represents the Bishop Arts District and north and west Oak Cliff, said the city should work to ensure no veteran is left without a home.
The new partnership, which will run through September 2023, will prioritize offering 655 vouchers for permanent housing to domestic violence survivors, families and individuals with health issues. An additional 2,000 people will be housed temporarily for a year and will receive health and employment-support services.
The recent addition of Grand Prairie will increase those numbers, according to Peter Brodsky, Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance chair and interim CEO.
“The vouchers are a permanent subsidy, so once you receive a voucher, that never ends,” Brodsky said. “That’s why the people who are going to receive the vouchers are domestic violence survivors, families and people who are the most chronically homeless, who are really probably never going to be self-sustaining.”
The vouchers are being distributed through a U.S. Housing and Urban Development program announced in May, which granted 70,000 vouchers to about 750 housing authorities nationwide. The Dallas Housing Authority is contributing 490 vouchers, Dallas County, 124 and the Mesquite Housing Division is giving 41.
The voucher distribution will start in July, Brodsky said, and will serve about 100 domestic violence survivors and 100 families. The remaining 455 vouchers will be used for individuals in chronic homelessness. The Rapid Rehousing program to help the other 2,000 individuals will begin on Oct. 1.
Brodsky said the MDHA expects to see a steady decrease of tent encampments as a result of the program over the next two years.
“The program will provide an invaluable tool to the city of Dallas to resolve encampments humanely and effectively by offering the people living there housing immediately,” Brodsky said in an email. “People will be able to go directly from encampment to housing.”
City staff announced last week that Dallas would receive federal grant funding separate from American Rescue Plan money that would be devoted to addressing homelessness through rapid rehousing — a program aimed at moving people into permanent housing by temporarily providing money via vouchers to help pay rent and utility costs.
After the news conference, the City Council approved contracts to about eight nonprofits to help the city address young adults experiencing homelessness; emergency space for people who are unsheltered; short-term financial aid to divert homelessness; and the management of two recently purchased hotels that will be converted to housing.
The largest contracts went to CitySquare, a nonprofit focused on addressing affordable housing and poverty nonprofit, and Family Gateway Inc., a homeless and social services advocacy nonprofit to oversee the two hotels the city bought in December for $10 million in federal stimulus money.
CitySquare is receiving close to $3.3 million to manage Hotel Miramar on Fort Worth Avenue in Kessler Stevens, and Family Gateway will get $2.9 million to run the Candlewood Suites on Preston Road in Far North Dallas.
The city said Miramar will have a combination of transitional and permanent housing for homeless individuals, and Candlewood would have a combination of overnight shelter and short-term housing geared toward families.
Miramar will be renovated to include 40 units, about half its current capacity, and Candlewood will have 50 rooms.