A new initiative could be a major turning point for fighting homelessness in North Texas.
On Wednesday, the City of Dallas announced the creation of the Dallas Real Time Rapid Rehousing Initiative, or DRTRR.
The goal is to rehouse over 2,600 individuals experiencing homelessness by October 2023.
“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.”
Mayor Johnson outlined the features of the historic partnership, which includes the following agencies:
- City of Dallas
- Dallas County
- DHA Housing Solutions for North Texas
- City of Mesquite
- Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance
- Homeless Collaborative
- City of Grand Prairie (pending)
The plan is to leverage federal dollars and housing vouchers from the American Rescue Plan Act and collect private funding – a total commitment of $70 million.
The latest news from around North Texas.
According to Dallas city leaders, the City of Dallas and Dallas County would each contribute $25 million. DHA Housing Solutions for North Texas, Dallas County and the City of Mesquite would each contribute 100% of the vouchers they receive under ARPA (490, 124 and 41, respectively), worth approximately $10 million.
The nonprofit Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA) would spearhead fundraising of $10 million in philanthropic contributions. Agencies in the Homeless Collaborative, Dallas and Collin Counties’ Continuum of Care, would provide direct services to people experiencing homelessness.
The program is made up of several components. Domestic violence survivors, families and individuals with more significant health issues would be permanently housed with the 655 vouchers and offered ongoing supportive services. An additional 2,000 individuals experiencing homelessness would be provided housing with rent paid for 12 months.
“In a city as wealthy as the City of Dallas, it makes no sense that we have such a large population of people forced to live on the street,” said Dallas Councilmember Casey Thomas, II, Co-Chair of the Dallas Area Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness (the DAP). “I call upon all rental property owners to participate in this opportunity offering our neighbors the support they need to live healthy, productive lives. I am also looking forward to my colleagues on the Dallas City Council voting our values as One Dallas through how we invest ARPA dollars to address chronic homelessness faced by our residents.”
During that year, case managers would assist clients with services they need to stabilize their lives, address health issues, and find employment. Data from similar rapid rehousing programs in Dallas and other cities shows promise – many people did not return to homelessness after being afforded the opportunity to get back on their feet.
“With the help of these federal resources and a commitment from other cities, Dallas County, and our homelessness services providers such as MDHA, we have an incredible opportunity to make a significant impact on this critical issue,” said Mayor Johnson.
There’s also a focus on addressing large homeless encampments in the area.
“We are also excited that DRTRR would offer valuable new tools to equitably and humanely resolve encampments by offering people immediate housing as an alternative to unsheltered homelessness. Unsheltered homelessness threatens the health and safety of all in our community, and many experiencing homelessness end up in the Parkland Health & Hospital System emergency room or Dallas County Jail,” said said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. “This historic partnership would increase the quality of trauma-informed care from partner agencies, save taxpayer dollars spent triaging people in crisis, and make Dallas County stronger and a better place to live.”
MDHA Chairman and Interim CEO Peter Brodsky, whose organization will spearhead private funding, said this project is testimony to the power of collective impact.
“This is not just government dollars. There's about $10 million of privately raised funds required to make this work. And it's not just because we needed more money, it's because there are key tools we need in order to find the housing, secure the housing and set people up for success in the housing that government funds are just not allowed to be used for,” he said.
He added those funds would be used to help collect items like toiletries, furniture and other needs once individuals are moved into housing.
This initiative has been announced but it hasn't officially launched. Kick-off is still pending approval from both Dallas City Council and Dallas County commissioners, among others.