A new White House initiative will use federal taxpayer dollars in an attempt to target the ongoing crisis of homelessness and vagrancy in Dallas.
Polling by The Dallas Express has consistently suggested that the majority of Dallas voters view homelessness and vagrancy as among the most serious problems faced by the City. Dallas was one of six sites chosen for this federal program, joining Los Angeles, Seattle, and the state of California, among others.
In an effort to respond to the crisis, the Office of Homeless Solutions (OHS) and local nonprofit Housing Forward are partnering with the federal government’s ALL INside initiative, according to a Thursday press release from the City.
Dallas has already received previously unprecedented levels of federal funding to combat homelessness. For the current fiscal year, the total taxpayer-funded budget of OHS is over $15 million.
The ALL INside initiative was launched Thursday by the White House and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) as part of the USICH’s Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, which aims to reduce homelessness by 25% by the year 2025 using federal taxpayer funds, according to the statement.
“We welcome this partnership with the federal government and will leverage it as another tool to encourage healthier and safer communities in Dallas,” Mayor Eric Johnson said in the release, noting that his administration has “taken a ‘kitchen-sink’ approach to address the challenges of homelessness.”
According to the release, the partnership will emphasize a collaborative strategy with the federal government, the City government, and smaller local organizations. It is unclear how this collaborative strategy will differ from the current approach, already supported by federal dollars, of the All Neighbors initiative, consisting of over 130 local organizations.
“This year, our community has proven that we know what it takes to reduce unsheltered homelessness,” Housing Forward Board Chair Peter Brodsky said in the release. “The entire continuum of care has rallied around a shared vision and is executing under a common strategy, informed by data.”
Despite the progress touted by some nonprofit groups, the City of Dallas saw a 214% increase in the chronically homeless between 2021 and 2022, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
The partnership between federal and local governments aims to “accelerate locally driven strategies and enact system-level changes to reduce unsheltered homelessness … navigate federal funding streams … [and] convene philanthropy, the private sector, and other communities to identify more opportunities for support and collaboration,” according to the statement.
The cooperation will also facilitate communication between ALL INside participants nationwide so leaders can learn from each other.
“Dallas has made great progress in our services for our unsheltered residents,” said Dallas Council Member Carolyn King Arnold, “and we know this partnership will provide a significant expansion to our efforts.”
One of the most vocal city leaders on the issue of homelessness is Council Member Cara Mendelsohn, who has criticized the City for failing to follow through on the “enforcement that’s necessary” to tackle the homelessness and vagrancy crisis effectively.
The Dallas Express reached out to Mendelsohn for her thoughts on this initiative but received no response by the time of publication.
As government officials continue their efforts to combat homelessness with taxpayer dollars, the San Antonio nonprofit Haven for Hope has shown success with its “one-stop shop” approach to homelessness that provides supportive services to the homeless in a single location outside of the downtown area.
This strategy has yet to be employed in Dallas despite the majority of residents favoring this approach, according to polling conducted by The Dallas Express.
As previously reported, the City of Dallas also estimates that only about 20% of panhandlers across the City were homeless.