Homes for the Homeless: MDHA's Plan to End Chronic Homelessness in Dallas By 2015

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HomelessCount2012.jpg
Photo by Stephen Masker
One of the more intriguing council briefings tomorrow will be given by an old friend of Mayor Mike Rawlings: Mike Faenza, president and CEO of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance. The title of his PowerPoint isn't very sexy -- "Permanent Supportive Housing Plan" -- but contained within is what Faenza hopes is a blueprint for ending chronic homelessness in the city of Dallas by 2015. No small goal.

"And I know I'm at risk at looking like Don Quixote," he says this afternoon. "But there's such a logic to it, ain't there? In my head, this works."

And by "this" Faenza means building at least 1,800 new permanent supportive housing units between now and 2015, a plan underscored in November, when MDHA released its annual homeless census. How? Well, through low-income tax credits (which, as we noted earlier, are getting harder and harder to come by), the feds' Continuum of Care program or by partnering with the Dallas Housing Authority, whose president, MaryAnn Russ, will join Faenza tomorrow. Says Faenza, the DHA will play a critical part in all this, as MDHA and DHA partner on putting permanent supportive housing units in existing public housing structures.

"I think we can do it," Faenza tells Unfair Park. "I'm going to try to sell that it can be done. It's defining what chronic homeless means. It's not a one-time event. It's overtaking it and having a process every day of the year and identifying people who are disabled and homeless and making sure you rehouse them in permanent housing before a year is up. ...

"Projecting 1,800 units is a lot of new units to add on to the almost 2,100 we have in place, and we need to minimize new cases to 800 to 1,000 over the next four years, which means the public mental health system needs to pay attention to housing. They need to create data that is continuously updated and shows the newly homeless in order to build incentives into the system. With a strained financial bureaucracy it sounds like an impossible job, but what makes it doable is it costs them one-third to one half to serve somebody who is housed than when they are homeless, so there's a huge financial incentive. MHDA has a plan, and we want the council to embrace the plan."

Tune in tomorrow at 11 a.m. Till then, read Faenza's plan below.
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14 comments
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bakedflounder
bakedflounder

Homeless people have no one willing to take them in, hence mental illness or addiction are the root causes of homelessness.  Building more places for them to live is only a band-aid on a greater problem.

Also, more people are living off the government by design, than in decades past.  It makes it easy for an able-bodied person to claim mental illness and qualify for a free or greatly subsidized home.

Providing more "free stuff" to an entitlement society is not going to deter homelessness, it will only increase it.

TMB
TMB

Where are these "Supportive Housing Units" going to be built? Hopefully in the midst of a soon to be rapidly developing area for exorbitantly over market costs, like we did 12 years ago? http://www.dallasobserver.com/...  

RGV41
RGV41

Wait a minute... Do these people have jobs?

Oak Cliff Clavin
Oak Cliff Clavin

Great, so by 2020 we should be able to knock out racism, obesity, crab-grass and ugly footware? Sounds reasonable. 

elsando
elsando

Some folks don't want to have a home. The State Hospitals provided a workable solution for a number of those now on the streets - but that was called "warehousing" - a terrible, terrible thing. What will we call it when they are forced into homes for the homeless? 

Paul
Paul

I think that it is wonderful that the City of Dallas is doing this.

I wonder what contributions to the problem that the following cities are making:

Highland ParkUniversity ParkFarmers BranchCedar HillLancasterWilmerHutchinsDeSotoCockrell HillGrand PrairieMesquiteSunnyvaleGarlandSeagovilleDuncanvilleBalch SpringsGarlandRichardsonCarrolltonGlenn HeightsRowlettSachseAddisonCoppell

And just to make sure no one is left out:

Dallas County

That's right I did say that it is wonderful that the City of Dallas is doing this, I just don't think that we should be the ones bearing the burden for a region wide problem.

Steve
Steve

This is an altruistic goal, but my concern is that Dallas draws more homeless with it. 

I'd like to see it augmented by city-wide enforcement against panhandling and sleeping outdoors.  

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

So, the plan to end homelessness is to give all the homeless people free homes?

And the entitlement society just got bigger....

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

You could argue it doesn't make it bigger, it just shifts it around.  Homeless already consume lots of entitlement/charity as it is.  But PSH is potentially a lot cheaper than, say, building more Bridge-type shelters.

But build all the shelters/PSH you want, you'll never eradicate homelessness for more than a night, unless you address the root causes.

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

DHA has thousands on their waiting list that are looking for low to moderate rental units.DHA destroyed almost 1000 units two years ago not to mention thousands before that.DHA has not replaced 50% of that housing so how do they plan to house Homeless and can't house working poor people on their waiting list.There is a reason homeless people who sleep on streets are there,mental illness and some type of substance abuse.Working on the mentally ill should come first the remainder should be forced into some type of program for addiction.

Whodunnit
Whodunnit

Truer words have not been spoken. When they "convert" DHA Public Housing Units to PSH, they may minimize one problem, but they displace low income familes in the process. What does this do? It creates more homelessness.

Mo
Mo

RW - I cant believe you are going to the DMN. DMN will be better for it. Congrats and take care! 

thufir_hawat
thufir_hawat

I was withholding snarky comments about a presentation that includes most PowerPoint don'ts, but it seems the content could also use a little proofing as, per slide 16, if "we overtake homelessness in 2015 . . . much fewer people with mental illness and substance abuse will no longer wander in our streets." 

The presentation also projects new "disabled homelessness" over the next four years of 800, which sounds optimistic and which does nothing to dispel the perception that the problem is like a gas that will expand to fill whatever capacity is created.

But of course, the slides also indicate that "it" will cause Dallas to be a "national phenomenon." Just the kind of first-class-city-speak that makes the city hall types salivate.

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