The City of Dallas is developing a new “master leasing program” to provide housing for the homeless.
“The master leasing program is designed to increase the number of available low-barrier units for those who are waiting for housing,” according to a statement shared with The Dallas Express by Jennifer Brown, public information officer for the City of Dallas. “The program will also assist those who are faced with obstacles such as bad credit and other barriers that would prohibit them from qualifying for a unit.”
The statement explained that the purpose of the program is to secure a third-party provider that can find both available housing units and people in need of those units while “utilizing City funding as a deposit to secure units in bulk for low-barrier housing.”
The Dallas Express asked how much taxpayer funding is available for this program but received no response by press time.
The City also shared a memo with The Dallas Express in which Deputy City Manager Kimberly Bizor Tolbert explained that the Office of Homeless Solutions (OHS) would sign an agreement with an organization to “acquire vacant units” and keep those units available so they can be used to house those who are homeless.
The OHS is currently searching for the appropriate organization to partner with for this program, having posted a request for proposal on March 3.
“The awardee will work as or with a provider to identify properties appropriate for master leasing of low-barrier rental units,” the memo reads. The awarded organization will also manage “all aspects of tenant occupancy,” including lease negotiations and property management as needed.
Housing Forward, the nonprofit that leads homeless response in Dallas and Collin counties, would help pinpoint who should move into those units, according to the Dallas Observer.
Questions such as who owns the units and how the properties are managed will be determined by the proposals received by the OHS, according to the statement provided by Brown.
“We will have to see what type of proposal response we get from the [request for proposal] to be able to describe in detail how this end product will look,” the statement continued. “It is the first program of its kind for OHS.”
Staff will update the Housing and Homeless Solutions Committee before May 24 — the tentative date for when the item will go before the full City Council, according to Tolbert’s memo.
As the City continues to launch new programs to address Dallas’ crisis of homelessness and vagrancy, the model favored by many residents is the one-stop-shop model of Haven for Hope in San Antonio, which provides support to the homeless in a contained geographic area — an approach not yet tried in the City of Dallas.
Meanwhile, homelessness is described as a “significant issue” by 76% of downtown residents polled, who compared the crisis to those in cities like Austin, Houston, Chicago, and New York City.
Further polling conducted by The Dallas Express likewise found that the majority of Dallasites believe that “homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling” continue to cause “serious problems in Dallas.”
The City does discourage residents from giving money directly to panhandlers, but many vagrants still opt to live on the street rather than accept the services provided by the City and local nonprofits such as Housing Forward.
“Homeless” is often an issue presented to the Dallas City Council by Open Microphone Speakers.
Deputy City Manager Kimberly Bizor Tolbert has a lot on her plate, including Dallas Water Utilities.