During a Housing & Homeless Solutions Committee meeting on Monday, Housing Forward CEO Sarah Kahn repeated the same assertion members have heard for months — that homelessness has been reduced in Dallas.

But the message still isn’t resonating with some Dallas City Council members, some of whom argue that homelessness is on the rise.

“I think we should rely on data and information,” Council Member Jesse Moreno (District 2) said.

“However, it has to be accurate, and it has to be current. … It’s just not matching up. You mentioned earlier that it’s unacceptable for people to live outside, and I wholeheartedly agree with you on that. Also, people who are chronically homeless [often] refuse services,” added Moreno.

Those comments came after Kahn reiterated that since the launch of R.E.A.L. Time Rehousing in 2021, overall homelessness has been reduced by 19% in Dallas and Collin counties, and unsheltered homelessness has dropped by 24%. More than 10,100 individuals have allegedly been housed over that period.

“Each year, more than 7,000 [people] are coming into homelessness,” Kahn said.

“We have been expanding diversion to intervene early when people first reach shelter so that we can support them to immediately resolve their housing crisis,” she added. “We also increased, between 2021 and 2024, the number of rehousing interventions available in the community to about 44%. That has resulted in the third consecutive year of reductions in homelessness.”

In April, Kahn reported an estimated 3,718 people experienced homelessness every night in Dallas and Collin counties in 2024. Since May 2023, 324 people in the same counties have reportedly found shelter through permanent supportive housing, and 2,405 individuals have been housed through diversion, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

“The national data for 2024 is not available yet, but I think it’s worth noting again, it’s very clear the investments that we’ve made … have really set us apart from other communities,” Kahn said. “Last year, we were one of five big cities to reduce homelessness, and 75% of the continuums of care in the nation saw large increases.”

Rachel Wilson, a liaison with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness embedded within the Dallas Office of Homeless Solutions, told the same committee in April that “Dallas is seen as a system that’s working very well” and that it’s “one of only 27 communities throughout the United States where homelessness is decreasing.”

Moreno recommended a third party to “verify” the data Housing Forward has compiled on homelessness in Dallas.

“I think we would all agree that we have a lot of work to do,” Kahn said. “That is something that I think we can all agree on, and you do not have to go far from this building to see people sleeping in very unacceptable conditions. At the State of Homelessness address in April, the All Neighbors Coalition set our sights on the next big system milestone.”

One such milestone is a 50% reduction in unsheltered homelessness by 2026.

“You certainly have my continued support for the plan you’re going about,” Council Member Chad West (District 1) said. “It seems to be working. … The data is key. We constantly hear from residents on what’s right in front of them. That’s an emergency to them, and it’s an emergency to us.”

Kahn said that in order to reach the 50% reduction, Housing Forward would need roughly $30 million in private investments and taxpayer money to prop up rehousing and supportive services.

She also quipped that “not everyone is believing the progress” being achieved in terms of reducing homelessness in the city.

“I would be one of them,” Council Member Cara Mendelsohn (District 12) said. “I don’t think the point-in-time count was accurate. I believe homelessness has actually increased significantly. In the five years I’ve been on council, I have seen it in my own district. While I do believe we’re working on at least the solution in two places … I don’t think we’ve been successful in that, and we must be. It’s terrible how people are living. I don’t think your providers believe you have decreased homelessness, either. I’m skeptical of the data we’re seeing.”

Council Member Gay Donnell Willis (District 13) agreed:

“I keep getting feedback that this is a Dallas issue, and Dallas can handle it.”

Christine Crossley, director of the Office of Homeless Solutions, said many people experiencing homelessness in Dallas have been entered into the Homeless Management Information System but remain unsheltered.

“There’s a lot of activity with the same people, and there’s lots of movement. We have seen more people that might have been in wooded areas … and now they’re out in public quite frequently. Most of those people are in our system. …It’s much easier to stay on the street and have your immediate needs met. That’s how we ended up with most of the homelessness downtown,” she said.

Polling conducted by The Dallas Express shows that roughly 75% of Dallas residents think homelessness, vagrancy, and aggressive panhandling are “major” problems in the City. Respondents also appeared to generally support the homeless services model used in San Antonio — Haven for Hope. The model has been credited with a 77% reduction in unsheltered homelessness in San Antonio’s downtown area.