City Homeless Dept. Requests $35M From Bond

Homeless man next to street light. | Image by Shutterstock

As City officials prepare the 2024 bond program for local voters, the Office of Homeless Solutions is requesting that $35 million of the bond funds are allocated toward “homeless services.”

Office of Homeless Solutions (OHS) Director Christine Crossley briefed the City Council Housing and Homelessness Solutions Committee on the “needs inventory” of her department on Monday, with such “needs” totaling $34,960,000.

However, Council Member Paula Blackmon questioned whether these expenses would truly help the state of homelessness and vagrancy in Dallas.

“My question on some of this is … is [this] going to get us to a point where we are seeing movement on the homeless situation?” she asked.

Blackmon said it “feels” like the homeless and vagrant population is rising, though this is counter to what is reported in the admittedly unreliable 2023 Point-in-Time Homeless Count cited by Director Crossley in her presentation to committee members.

Crossley assured Blackmon that these expenditures would yield results, citing the success of the Dallas R.E.A.L. Time Rapid Rehousing Initiative.

“We are housing around 14 people a week,” she said. “It used to be around six. That’s incredibly impressive.”

In her presentation, Crossley proposed spending $4,658,200 of the bond program on The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center — $2,298,200 on equipment and building upgrades and $2,360,000 on expansions to the center.

Crossley also proposed allocating $12,610,800 toward future permanent supportive housing projects and said these funds would be used as “seed money” to leverage private investment in future housing projects.

Furthermore, she proposed spending $17,700,000 on developing the former University General Hospital at 2929 South Hampton Rd. that the City bought last year using $6.5 million from the 2017 bond program.

The development would include renovating the four buildings “to provide permanent housing and services for an estimated 100 residents.”

However, Crossley noted that the project in its entirety would cost far more than $17 million, and these funds, like the aforementioned $12 million, would be used to leverage private investment for the project.

“I don’t believe that $17 million is enough for a 12-acre campus, but I believe it is enough to show that the City is committed to partnering with public and private entities to leverage this funding into developing the campus,” she said.

When the City first proposed turning the property into a homeless services facility last year, it was met with an outcry from Oak Cliff residents who said the City failed to properly communicate with the community about the project and raised concerns about the facility being directly across the street from an elementary school, library, and public park, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Moreover, research suggests that “housing first” approaches to addressing homelessness are ineffective because they do not address the underlying causes of the issue.

Additionally, the City has spent millions on housing projects, even purchasing hotels for transitional homeless housing, but it has not solved the problem. In fact, these hotels are reportedly not even in use and have remained vacant for years.

Previous polling by The Dallas Express has shown municipal voters view homelessness and vagrancy as among the most serious problems facing Dallas, indicating that the City government must do more to tackle this crisis.

As the City continues to spend millions of dollars in taxpayer money developing housing projects for the homeless, one strategy that has yet to be tried in Dallas is that of a “one-stop-shop” for homelessness that provides supportive services in a single geographic location.

This approach is favored by Dallas residents, according to polling conducted by The Dallas Express, and has shown great success in San Antonio through the nonprofit Haven for Hope.

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