There are more than 3,500 homeless people in Dallas, a 9 percent increase from last year’s count. What are we doing about it?
I recently visited two agencies providing services to the homeless. Next month, I will share my experience at the Stewpot. This month, I’m writing about Austin Street Center, which provides emergency overnight shelter on a first-come-first-served basis. Every day many are turned away because there are not enough beds.
Overnight stays cover basic needs: a safe place to sleep, with meals, showers, clean clothes, and hygiene products. Additional services also are offered, including education and employment resources, mental and medical health care, substance use recovery, benefits navigation, housing-focused case management, diversion services to prevent homelessness, and spiritual support (if desired).
I felt so fortunate to see an elderly woman become “housed” while I was there. When she received keys to her new home, there was applause, hugs, and tears from staff and others staying at the shelter.
In October 2017, the city of Dallas established the Office of Homeless Solutions to provide leadership and coordination of private and public efforts addressing homelessness.
In coming months, we plan to look at homelessness and what people in our communities are doing to address it. In this article, we give you an overview of Dallas’ strategic plan.
The plan includes measures for addressing the affordable housing crisis. Yes, in the midst of all the growth and prosperity we see around us, there is a lack of housing for the working poor – another complication for getting the homeless out of their situations and on the path to stability.
As a volunteer with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, I’ve learned a lot about the poor. Most, just like all of us, want a job where they can work hard, provide for their families, and have a sense of dignity.
But so many are living on the verge of homelessness – a fear they live with every day. Just one thing, even a small thing, such as a car breaking down, getting sick and unable to go to work, or worse, losing a job, can send them over the edge.