Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dallas County Commissioners Court Resolution Honoring Michael M. Faenza

This morning it was a wonderful pleasure to attend the meeting of the Dallas County Commissioners Court, where a resolution was adopted honoring our leader and friend, President and CEO of MDHA, Michael M. Faenza. You may view video of the proceedings, once they are posted, at

Quite characteristically of Mike, when given the opportunity to speak, he spoke very little about what he did, instead highlighting the work each of the commissioners has done in areas of social justice, and thanking the staff of MDHA for their work. In the spirit of social justice, Mike mentioned that he had often been an “agitator”, to which Commissioner Price responded, to the hearty laughs of the assembled, that without an agitator the wash does not come out clean! Commissioner Price also mentioned the acceptance of the Dallas area Continuum of Care to the Zero: 2016 initiative, about which we posted last week on this blog.

Here is the text of the resolution, which Commissioner Price read aloud, and the court unanimously approved:

BE IT REMEMBERED, at a regular meeting of the Commissioners Court of Dallas County, Texas, held on the 11th day of November 2014 on motion made by John Wiley Price, Commissioner of District No. 3… the following Resolution was adopted:

Whereas Michael M. Faenza, President and CEO of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA), and a national leader in the area of mental health for the past 35 years, will retire from MDHA effective January 1, 2015; and

Whereas MDHA is an association of organizations devoted to ending homelessness in Dallas and Collin Counties, by putting people into homes, facilitating over $16,750,000 of annual federal funding, coordinating services, and driving improvement in more than 45 different transitional programs; and

Whereas Mike Faenza, a distinguished alumnus of the University of Texas at Arlington Graduate School of Social Work, was a fixture of the Dallas social service scene from 1979 to 1993. He was the first vocational coordinator for Dallas County Mental Health Mental Retardation (MHMR) Center, Executive and Clinical Director of the Letot Center for runaway youth, within the Dallas County Juvenile Department, and Executive Director of the Mental Health Association (MHA) of Greater Dallas. He was then elevated to President and CEO of the National MHA in Washington, D.C., a position he served in for 14 years; and

Whereas Mike Faenza returned to Dallas in 2007 to serve as the President and CEO of MDHA. Under Faenza’s leadership, MDHA took The Bridge, Dallas’ state of the art, $28 million homeless intake and service center, from a mere idea on paper to a fully functioning institution that today serves as a model for other cities around the country; and

Whereas Working with the community to bring $17 million annually back to Dallas from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for use in providing permanent supportive housing, while creatively adding hundreds of units of housing for the homeless in partnership with the Dallas Housing Authority, Mike has distinguished himself as a fierce and innovative leader. During his tenure at MDHA, Faenza oversaw an increase in PSH units of about 350%, from 600 to 2050, a continued drop in chronic homelessness to 65% below where it was in 2004, and an improvement of more than 30% in PSH services in just the last three years; and

Whereas Through a partnership with the Dallas Housing Authority, MDHA prioritized the housing of those experiencing homelessness, and have housed more than 3400 formerly homeless individuals and families. In monetary terms, with an average rent of $700 per month, DHA’s investment tops $28,000,000 annually. This is a direct result of Mike Faenza and MDHA’s “forward thinking”; and

Whereas Mike Faenza has continuously emphasized that the fight against homelessness is just a piece of the puzzle, in the general fight against poverty. Earlier this year he stated, “Dallas still has some of the highest poverty rates in the country, affordable housing is scarce, and the mental health provider reimbursement system is dismally underfunded.” Indeed, throughout his tenure, it has been important to Faenza to remind the community that ending homelessness, will not make these larger problems go away; and

Whereas Mike Faenza will remain with MDHA in a consulting role as the agency searches for his successor and then move into a consulting practice; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Dallas County Commissioners Court does hereby extend sincere appreciation to Michael M. Faenza for his contribution to the homeless in our community with over 35 years of dedicated service and join MDHA and our many partners that support and provide services to the homeless, as we salute Mike’s leadership as he retires.

DONE IN OPEN COURT THIS 11th day of November 2014.

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