Thursday, January 26, 2017

2017 Homeless Count Day is Here, by Cindy J. Crain, MDHA President and CEO

Some 1,300 volunteers will deploy throughout Dallas and Collin Counties tonight to conduct the 2017 census of persons experiencing homelessness.  This overwhelming volunteer response will represent the largest point in time count ever within one Continuum of Care in Texas.

Those kinds of numbers give us an opportunity to inform individuals on the nature and extent of homelessness first hand.

We go out to count the number of people who are experiencing homelessness at the same time we take an inventory of the housing we have available for them. 

These facts will allow us to articulate the extensive housing crisis that people in poverty, with disabling conditions, or a history in the criminal justice system face in Dallas and Collin Counties.

We will report out our findings on March 9 at the State of the Homeless Address and give the community a clearer picture of the nature and extent of the barriers people face in trying to secure a stable home.

As we go out tonight and look under bridges, along sidewalks, and in vehicles, we must resist the inclination from the encounter that the living condition is merely some defect of character or decision making.  We must understand that there are real institutional and economic forces that create disparities in access to resources of housing and healthcare which create a population of people who no longer have homes.

Can we change the hearts and minds of enough residents to resist the tendencies towards NIMBYism that all too often hold back the development of safe, quality, accessible and affordable housing?

Can we compel more to action that they will demonstratively give their local elected representatives the political backing they need to make the housing decisions that are the solutions to homelessness?

This is our opportunity to inform 1,300 volunteers and the public who watch, listen and read of the homeless count that Homelessness is what a housing crisis looks like.

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