Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Housing First" Works!

Newsflash: homeless people are not criminals, nor are they deserving of the treatment they usually receive. What people who lack homes need is decent, permanent housing.

As I've related here before, lots of national research and numerous case studies document the fact that once given a place to call home, an overwhelming majority of formerly homeless persons manage their lives very well without much additional intervention (87%, to reference one major study).

Well, we now have our own experience to report in validation of the reports from other cities.

Thanks to a grant from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Central Dallas Ministries is placing homeless persons in permanent housing in two undisclosed Dallas locations.

We have funding for 50 apartments. We have secured these housing units through an agreement with one property owner. We control 25 one-bedroom apartment units in each of two different locations. In each location our living units are part of a much larger, multi-family development.

So far we have placed 18 homeless men in permanent housing. These guys now have a key to the place they call home. Thanks to a couple of area churches, they also have what they need to set up housekeeping.

We've been at this for several weeks now. Before too much longer we will have filled all 50 of our apartments.

Guess what?

No problems whatsoever from our tenants. They are so grateful for the housing and for the freedom, you should hear them talk. Without a doubt, these gentlemen will become some of these developments' best residents.

Their stories are all a bit different.

All are dealing with various disabilities.

All are capable of life on their own. They proved that surviving on our mean streets, some of them for several years.

What they share in common is an extremely positive, appreciative response to having a home of their own.

Here's the chief solution for our Downtown "problems with the homeless." Develop the housing. Provide the support to move folks from the street to a quality, decent home. The problem can be solved. We are kidding ourselves if we say otherwise.

If I was a Downtown, upscale developer, I'd call CDM and ask how to make an investment in our future development plans.*

I'm just wondering if we have the will, the smarts and the vision as a community to simply practice the Golden Rule? If we do, the outcome will be wonderful for everyone.

(*By the way, my phone number is 214.823.8710 ext 116!)


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3 comments:

Daniel Gray said...

Larry, speaking of disabilities, one of McCormack Baron's mixed-income housing sites in St. Louis features all of its apartments with Universal Design. I don't know if CDM has considered this idea at all. It's a little more expensive, but it avoids the stigma of apartments that are "handicap-accessible" since all of the apartments are designed that way and marketed to the public at-large.

Here's a link to some articles about the 6 North building:

http://www.urbanstlouis.com/6north.html

I was able to tour the building... it's definitely an incredible place to live.

Karen Shafer said...

Right on, Larry and CDM! This is just wonderful. You people do set the standard in Dallas for the rest of us! God Bless.

Pat Spradley said...

This is a wonderful program Larry. I am acquainted with Jeff who you recently helped get an apartment. He is in a writing group I participate in and a great guy.
I have given your number to another homeless friend. If Craig calls and tells you Pat sent him he is a very sweet spirited young man you will immediately like. I hope you can help him.
Thanks for your passion and all you do for the homeless and impoverished in Dallas.