Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Our Homeless Response System at Work

At the last Continuum of Care General Assembly meeting, Lester Collins, our CoC Performance Analyst walked us through the newest MDHA Homeless Response System Community Dashboard. The Dashboard provides a snapshot of the core system metrics that inform us on achievements in moving individuals to permanent housing. In the next few days, we will be publishing the latest iteration of the Dashboard, which will include a brief executive review of what the data tells us, methods for systemic improvement, and other impacts to the system of care.  

As part of his presentation, Lester also shared the latest Housing Priority List (HPL) Tracker (pictured below). The HPL has been operational since early 2016. It represents the demand side of the housing equation. It is managed by the Documentation and Prioritization Status (DOPS) Coordinator, who ensures that the persons on it have not only been assessed and prioritized for service, but also have all necessary documents, so they may be housed without delay. Housing providers are expected to house those with a lower P number (indicating greater need and vulnerability) first.  

Cindy J. Crain, MDHA President and CEO, emphasized that what the HPL now tells us, with more than 750 individuals on it ready to be housed now, is that our Homeless Response System is working, and that what we really need is more housing. This is important information for local governments, who now have the hard data they need to act to create more housing.

We will be sharing a refresher/update of the workings of our Homeless Response System on this
blog, Ending Homelessness, in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

My Invocation at the Dallas Furniture Bank CHAIRity Friendraiser Luncheon - Furnishing Hope for 15 years

Friends, allow me to begin by applauding you for being intolerant. Yes, you heard correctly, if you are here, you are intolerant, and you should be commended for it. Allow me to clarify, though, before I am dragged off stage.  

Before the Dallas Furniture Bank, folks exiting homelessness often moved into empty homes, where they had to sleep, sit and eat on the floor. In 2003, a group of people decided that they would no longer tolerate this. The founders of the Dallas Furniture Bank could not fathom that in the 21st Century, in Dallas, Texas, human beings should have to live like that. It was wrong, it was unjust, and they would no longer stand for it. 

Therefore, they founded the Dallas Furniture Bank. The idea was simple. Folks don’t have furniture. Give them furniture. It was so crazy; it just worked. 

By joining us here today, fifteen years later, you state, that you too will not tolerate other human beings living in a barren home. By giving to the Dallas Furniture Bank, you are ensuring that such injustice will not stand, especially when the solution is so simple. 
This gives me great hope. Why? Because it shows me how we can end homelessness itself. You see, Dallas’ homelessness crisis is quite similar to the crisis the founders of the Dallas Furniture Bank confronted fifteen years ago. 
In what way? Well, we now have 15-20 years of research that shows us how to end homelessness. The idea is simple. Folks don’t have homes. Give them homes. It’s so crazy; it just works. Sometimes they need some additional supports, but in essence that is all there is to it. 
In the 21st Century, in Dallas, Texas, human beings shouldn't have to experience homelessness. It is wrong, it is unjust, and we should not stand for it, especially when the solution is so simple. All we need is the will to make it happen, the same will that the founders of the Dallas Furniture Bank had fifteen years ago. For, as a great man named Theodor Herzl wrote in 1902, if you will it, it is no dream. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

In Dallas Everybody Counts. OK, What Happens Next?

Wow. What can we say? Thursday night, you showed that, in Dallas, everybody counts.   

We had so many volunteers at our largest site, First United Methodist Church, Dallas, that the first floor of the sanctuary, which seats 800, could not fit everyone. Some of our volunteers had to go up to the balcony! Altogether, we broke the record we set last year, in what was, once again, the largest Homeless Count in Texas history, with over 1,500 volunteers.

So many organizations and individuals helped us pull this off. There is no way we could thank everyone who helped us. We did want to highlight First United Methodist Church, Dallas, and Wilshire Baptist Church, who hosted our two Dallas sites. And, as usual, our friends at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas proved indispensable, in spreading the word about the need for volunteers, and in running a special campaign, Warm a Sole, to give a pair of socks to every person experiencing homelessness in Dallas and Collin Counties.

Do you have pics, stories or impressions to share about that night, which you have yet to post? Please share them, using: #dallascounts2018.

If this is your first Homeless Count, and even if you have done a few before, you might be asking, OK, what happens now? Great question!

First of all, as we mentioned on our blog before, the use of the Counting Us app helped us and our partners immediately connect persons experiencing homelessness to services. Since the app automatically records the exact latitude and longitude of each person counted, we were able to supply outreach teams with this information. They were then able to go out the very next morning to assist individuals who might qualify for specific programs, specifically, youth, veterans, persons with HIV/AIDS, and pregnant women.

The main thing we will do now, though, is compile all of the results we collected, of both sheltered and unsheltered counts, "clean" them up, correcting for duplicates and other errors, and "slice and dice" them by specific demographic groups. We will carefully analyze the results, and figure what they tell us about trends in homelessness, what is working in our homeless response system, and where our community needs to course correct.

On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, 9.30-11.30am, we will hold our annual State of the Homeless Address at Goodwill Industries of Dallas. Cindy J. Crain, MDHA President and CEO, will share the results of the 2018 Point-in-Time Homeless Count, and the progress of the Homeless Response System. Please save the date!

Finally, we will submit the results of the Count to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These results will go into a national report HUD will submit to the U.S. Congress in late 2018. You can check out the 2017 report by clicking here.