A handful of North Texas governmental bodies and agencies are pooling together about $70 million to pay for a rapid rehousing initiative that leaders say will provide shelter to more than 2,600 homeless people.
Most of the money for the initiative is coming from federal funds and housing vouchers provided by the COVID-19 economic stimulus package passed by U.S. Congress in March. The city of Dallas and Dallas County are each contributing about $25 million of their respective stimulus dollars. The county, the city of Mesquite, and DHA Housing Solutions for North Texas are throwing in housing vouchers worth roughly $10 million, and the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance will drum up another $10 million from private donors.
The plan is to first provide permanent housing to “domestic violence survivors, families and individuals with more significant health issues,” according to the city. Another 2,000 people will have their rent paid for a year while they are connected to other social services to help them get back on their feet and find more long-term housing. The most recent point-in-time count found that more than 4,500 people were experiencing homelessness in Dallas and Collin counties, so if this initiative is successful it could go a long way toward reducing that number.
The Dallas Real Time Rapid Rehousing initiative was announced at a press conference this morning, but all of these partners will still have to individually sign off. And the logistics and specifics of how all this money will be administered is unclear. The program won’t formally get underway until at least August. We’ll look to have more details on the initiative by then.
A lot of factors contribute to homelessness, but many experts will tell you that addressing the problem boils down to one thing: housing. People need a place to live. Everything in a person’s life depends first and foremost on stable, long-term housing. Without knowing the specifics of this particular program, there is ample evidence that rapid rehousing—a model that keeps people off the street and out of emergency shelters, putting them in paid-for rental housing until they can afford a more permanent home—can be effective in reducing homelessness.