$9.4M To Combat Homelessness in Local Youth

Homeless person | Image by Joeprachatree

The federal government has granted $9.4 million to Housing Forward — the nonprofit that coordinates homelessness response efforts across Dallas and Collin counties — to address young adult homelessness.

The funding comes from HUD’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project, a program that aims to prevent 18-24-year-olds facing potential homelessness from living on the street. The project directs taxpayer money toward programs that service this demographic.

“Nobody should live without the basic human dignity of shelter. But least of all, youth,” said Housing Forward Chair Peter Brodsky, per KERA News.

HUD directed $9,392,854 to Housing Forward to address young adult homelessness in Dallas and the surrounding region, reported KERA. Housing Forward received the largest sum of 16 organizations that were given similar grants.

According to the National Foster Youth Institute, about 20% of those formerly in foster care become homeless within the first year of turning 18 and aging out of the foster system.

“Those youth start [their adult lives] with a variety of needs,” said Housing Forward CEO Joli Angel Robinson, per KERA. “They may not have the connection with their birth families, they may not have the resources to effectively navigate the adult world like college or career or finding the resources they need.”

“Over the next few years, we’ll be leveraging the ongoing partnerships and the HUD funding in creating a more coordinated approach to ensuring all unhoused youth are quickly identified and matched to needed resources,” she said, reported The Dallas Morning News.

To determine how the funding will be spent, Housing Forward will consult a board of young people who have been homeless. Candace Valenzuela, HUD regional director, said these youth action boards “must be full partners in this process,” according to KERA.

“Including planning, project development, and project implementation,” she added. “Youth with lived experience bring a critical skillset to this work.”

The Dallas Express reached out to Housing Forward for more information but received no response by press time.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Housing Forward was already allocated $22.8 million by HUD earlier this year to combat homelessness and vagrancy in Dallas and Collin Counties.

This comes as 75% of Dallas residents say homelessness continues to be a “major” problem throughout the city.

However, neither the City of Dallas nor local nonprofits such as Housing Forward have employed the “one-stop-shop” strategy of Haven for Hope in San Antonio.

Haven for Hope provides supportive services on the same campus as housing to make services like counseling, rehab, and job training more accessible to its clients. Furthermore, clients must agree to participate in these services in order to join Haven for Hope’s “Transformational Campus.”

This strategy has been credited with a 77% reduction in homelessness in San Antonio and has polled favorably among Dallas residents. Mayor Eric Johnson recently visited Haven for Hope, but it remains to be seen whether a similar approach will be adopted in Dallas.

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