Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Looking for a home. . .

More news this morning about the commitment of the Dallas Housing Authority to address the needs of some of the hardest to house residents of our community:  the chronically homeless. 

Carrying on the traditions and values of her predecessor, DHA President and CEO MaryAnn Russ recently publishes a request for proposals for several hundred special use housing vouchers.  A number of groups responded.  As a result, more homeless persons will leave our streets. 

The story here is all win for our community.  You pick the angle, it's all win.

Community return on investment:  Dallas spends over $50 million annually to maintain the status quo with our homeless population.  Providing housing and welcoming supportive relationships and services can be done for a fraction of that cost.  Public and private hospitals, especially in their Emergency Departments and mental health facilities; police, fire and EMS teams will be relieved.  Win!

Private housing developers return on investment:  Property owners with apartments to rent will now have tenants who will pay their bills, making the various developments more financially viable and successful.  Last time I noticed, that's how our economy works and grows.  Win!

Community environment, appearance and public health/safety return on investment:  People who live on the streets of Dallas are forced into difficult situations, many of which continually get them in trouble.  Where to eat?  How to pay for where to eat?  Where to go to the restroom?  Where to bathe?  Where to sleep?  How to work?  How to get started over again?  Where to receive phone calls?  How to get to a doctor?  Where to secure possessions?  Where to simply sit and rest?  The daily challenges of being out there are enough to make a person drink or even lose one's mind--both happen every day because people have no place to call home.  When people move into homes, our streets improve, as do the lives of the formerly homeless. Win!

Sadly, those who oppose our homeless neighbors moving into permanent housing operate out of a fear that is uninformed.  They look at homeless persons who live on the street without the benefit of a home and assume that the same persons, once housed, will look and react to life in the same manner as before finding a place to live.  Just isn't the way things work with almost 90% of the homeless across the nation who find real homes. 

Housing provides a "level set" experience for the "out-of-control life" on the streets of a place like Dallas. 

Our experience here certainly confirms the national research and lines up with the experience and reports of housing providers in other major urban areas. 

Providing permanent, supportive housing for the homeless addresses a daunting community problem in the most efficient, economical and effective manner possible.  Nothing to fear, except the temptation we all experience: closing our minds before examining the evidence

Housing, permanent housing for the homeless.  Nothing but a huge Win!  For everyone.

[To read Kim Horner's latest in this morning's edition of The Dallas Morning News click here.  Pay particular attention to the comments of Dallas City Council Member Jerry Allen.  Nice to hear a leader speak in such a reasonable manner!  Also, note the reaction from Frank Nuchereno, board chairman of the Vickery Meadow Improvement District.  Good to see that not all neighborhood groups oppose such efforts.  It seems that those who have experience with permanent supportive housing don't object to seeing more arrive in their neighborhoods.]

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