Every year, volunteers across the country pick a single night at the end of January to count the homeless. A report was released Tuesday about the results in Dallas and Collin counties.
As a part of our One Crisis Away initiative, KERA explores the numbers.
First, some good news, Veteran homelessness decreased by 32 percent from 2014 to 2015.
“There are literally hundreds of new opportunities for housing for veterans. And when you target your resources and target outreach efforts to find those veterans in a very deliberate way, you get good results,” says Cindy Crain, President and CEO of Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance.
She says January’s count reveals bad news for those who identify as chronically homeless. That group increased 26 percent in the last year.
“We were having great success in developing new permanent supportive housing, and now those numbers are starting to lag,” says Crain. “We’ve started to kind of plateau on the development of new permanent supportive housing.”
One of the problems is Dallas and Collin Counties are booming. Which means it isn’t exactly a renters market, especially if you don’t make much money or have bad credit.
“Every paycheck to paycheck you could fall out of housing immediately and then when you get back on your feet, there won’t be an affordable housing unit to move into,” says Crain.
Creating more housing is one of the priorities for Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance this summer. Crain says she also wants to hire more case managers and better train those already working in shelters to understand all the housing opportunities available in our area.
Another interesting trend; there’s been a 26 percent decrease in the number of homeless families, but there’s been no drop in the number of homeless adults who report having children.
“So what’s happening is these families are splitting up at the front door of homelessness. The children going to live with a family member or friend and one of the parents having to go into a shelter,” says Crain.
Which means Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance has another important question to address in the months ahead. How to keep families together.