U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson spent time in Fort Worth Wednesday, where he met with local leaders and stakeholders to learn more about the successes they've had placing homeless veterans into permanent homes.
This was Carson's third visit to Cowtown since taking the reins at HUD.
When asked why he keeps coming back, he initially joked that, "they have good food here" -- but then expressed how impressed he is with entire community's committment to combating homelessness.
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"A lot of people think when you look at affordable housing and homelessness...they think this is a problem the federal government is supposed to solve," said Carson. "And that's not true. The federal government is a component working with the state and local governments, with the private sector, the faith-based community, and the nonprofits. When we do it that way -- that's what I've seen here in Fort Worth -- they are truly successful."
During a roundtable with Carson, Mayor Betsy Price, affordable housing advocates, and leaders of organizations that work with the homeless highlighted a recent 100 Day Challenge they completed, in which they were able to place 181 homeless veterans into permanent homes.
They noted each of the veterans had to agree to case management before receiving vouchers, to ensure they received other critical services necessary for them to move forward in life.
They cited the collaborative process between Veterans Affairs, HUD, local housing authorities, the city, property managers, and non-profits for the end results.
"It's our neighbors who are homeless, it's our citizens -- we know what's going to work in this population," said Price. "Dr. Carson has been really good in allowing flexibility and innovation with the HUD dollars that flow to us. For us to have that flexibility, to deliver service that works in our community, is one of the reasons that we must be on the front lines helping to fight the issues."
Carson's visit comes a day after HUD awarded Fort Worth and the greater Tarrant County area an additional $1 million in funding. Price said there's still a lot of work to be done when it comes to tackling homelessness -- and the extra money is welcomed.
"I think that will help us with our Housing First project -- to get more people into permanent supportive housing, get more vouchers out, more services for those we do put in housing," said Price. "You don't want to put people in housing and they've got no services. This will go a long way in helping us get them on their feet and moving forward."