DALLAS (WBAP/KLIF) – The Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance has rolled out a new initiative, in response to the recent rise in veteran homelessness in Dallas and Collin Counties.
The January 2019 homeless count, conducted by MDHA, saw the number of homeless veterans increase by 100, from 331 to 431 (11.3% of all homeless individuals). During the Veterans Challenge, which began May 1, 2019, MDHA is challenging itself, its partners, and the Dallas community at large to come together to house, at least, 100 veterans in 100 days.
One of the key bodies believed by the group to be crucial to the success of the challenge is MDHA’s Continuum of Care Veterans By Name List Committee, which will meet frequently.
“A By Name List is exactly what it sounds like,” explained Shavon Moore, MDHA’s Vice President of Programs, who is spearheading the Veterans Challenge, “It is a list of our homeless veterans. We go down the list, name by name, to figure out how to house each and every one of them, crossing them off the list one by one.”
The full list of 431 veterans is to divided into smaller lists, with each smaller list assigned to a specific professional, who will be in charge of housing those on that list.
MDHA and its partner, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs will hold a number of what the VA calls “Admissions Events”. These events are designed for veterans to have their status verified, so they can unlock benefits available to them, including HUD-VASH housing vouchers. HUD-VASH stands for Housing and Urban Development – Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing, a partnership between the VA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD provides housing and the VA provides services to end a veteran’s homelessness.
Under Dallas city ordinance, it is illegal to refuse to accept a veterans housing voucher. But, with the current Dallas rental housing market occupancy rate, it is still a challenge to find housing. MDHA and its partners will seek to creatively utilize the existing supply of housing, through shared housing for example, while also trying to increase the supply of available units.
“That is one area where we will need all the help we can get,” said Carl Falconer, MDHA’s President and CEO, “Do you have units to rent, to help veterans end their homelessness? Let us know!”
According to MDHA, Community partners have already offered their help. An anonymous benefactor issued MDHA a challenge: Raise $9,000 for MDHA’s flexible assistance fund, to be used exclusively for veterans, and the benefactor will match that dollar for dollar. Faith Forward Dallas at Thanksgiving Square will be providing 100 move-in kits. All veterans housed will be enrolled in MDHA’s partnership program with DART, which allows those experiencing homelessness to purchase DART passes for 50% off. Project ID will be help veterans obtain critical documents, necessary to access housing.
MDHA officials say the organization will use the challenge to learn about what works and what does not work, what gaps exist in the veteran homeless response system and how they can be filled, what partners are already at the table and what partners need to be brought to the table.
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