Monday, October 5, 2015

Not Without Simon – Another Happy Flex Fund Story

As a reader of this blog, you are probably well aware of the hard work the Outreach Taskforce has been doing to connect the residents of the tent city under I-45 to housing. You can refresh your memory by reading this detailed blog post: (Really) Coping With Tent City (and Homelessness, In General) by Building an Effective Homeless Response System. Our good friend, Tasha Tsiaperas, of the Dallas Morning News has written a number of excellent pieces about this, the most recent one being: Homeless live by a code in I-45 'Tent City,' but Dallas wants them cleared out. Earlier this week, the Dallas Morning News ran this “vidatorial”: Inside Tent City: Why the city needs urgency in dealing with the homeless camp under I-45, where we got to hear from Rebecca Cox, MDHA Vice President, as well as from the Reverends Larry James and Jonathan Grace, of CitySquare, about this important work, as well as from some of the residents themselves.

One of the important new tools we use in helping these and other folks, who are experiencing homelessness, is the MDHA Flex Fund. We have written about this on our website, in the blog post mentioned at the beginning of this post, and elsewhere on this blog. Also, Courtney Collins interviewed Cindy J. Crain, MDHA President and CEO about this: Losing An Apartment Because You Can’t Pay The $45 Application Fee.

Last week Rebecca shared another cool story about how the MDHA Flex Fund is paying for a minor but impactful expense, that is helping a person resolve her housing emergency. If you have a pet, you know that that little guy or gal is a member of your family. Imagine you lost pretty much everything, but your little four legged “son” stuck with you through thick and thin. Well, Judith* does not need to imagine that. For the last five years she has lived on the street, most recently in the tent city under I-45. Her little Chihuahua, Simon, has been by her side (actually, usually cradled in her arms!) the whole time. Due to her hard work with Rev. Grace, she is now moving into an apartment, where ABC Behavioral Health will help her with everything she needs to rebuild her life. However, last week, with everything ready to go, Rev. Grace ran into a final but serious stumbling block.

The apartment complex, as is true with many apartment complexes, requires a pet deposit. No big deal, right? Many of us have been there. Well, for Judith, the $43.75 required for the pet deposit is a big deal. She does not have that kind of money. As is typical, the grant under which ABC Behavioral Health will ably serve Judith, cannot be used to pay for pet deposits. In fact, Rev. Grace could not find any existing funding source for pet deposits. And yet, this very small but impactful expense is what stood between Judith (and Simon!) continuing to live under I-45 and moving into an apartment.  Rev. Grace filled out an MDHA Flex Fund request form, where he documented all of this, sent it to Rebecca, and she had a check cut to the apartment complex. Judith and Simon still have a journey ahead of them, but now with the help of the Outreach Taskforce, ABC Behavioral Health and the MDHA Flex Fund, they are on the right track to “happily ever after…”

*Judith and Simon’s names have been changed to protect their privacy. Likewise, photo is of another really cute Chihuahua!

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