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Mayor Claims Veteran Homelessness Has Been Eradicated in Dallas

Screengrab of Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson speaking on veteran homelessness. | Image by WFAA
Screengrab of Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson speaking on veteran homelessness. | Image by WFAA

The City of Dallas has been granted a sought-after federal designation that paints a rosy picture of its efforts to reduce the number of homeless veterans in the state’s third-largest municipality.

City officials applied for the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) designation declaring the end to veteran homelessness in Dallas, as The Dallas Express reported in February. The City was recently granted the designation, according to a Wednesday press conference held by Mayor Eric Johnson.

“It’s really exciting to see this room so full of folks who are supportive and have been supportive of our efforts to end veterans’ homelessness,” Johnson said.

“I’m so thrilled to be a part of this historic announcement on veteran homelessness. This administration has long advocated for our community to take a data-driven and evidence-based approach to solve all sorts of problems, including finding solutions to reducing homelessness in our city, and that was especially true when it came to veteran homelessness.”

Johnson read aloud a letter sent by Jeff Olivet, the executive director of USICH, stating that the agency, along with the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs, was “pleased to confirm that Dallas City and Dallas County have effectively ended homelessness among veterans.”

“In Dallas, we have the utmost respect for our Veteran community,” Johnson said. “Men and women who sacrificed so much for our country should never be forsaken to live in homelessness. Today’s announcement means Dallas is now able to help any military Veteran quickly overcome homelessness and secure a home. This truly is an incredible accomplishment, and I am sincerely grateful to all our partners who made it possible.”

However, Johnson clarified at the press conference that receiving the designation from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness “doesn’t mean that we’re never going to see another veteran experience homelessness in our city or in our county.”

“It means that we now have the systems, the data, and the coordination in Dallas and Collin counties to where any veteran who does fall into homelessness can and will quickly obtain a permanent home within 90 days. That’s what the confirmation means,” he said.

“This federal designation is a recognition that the system and resources in place in Dallas and Collin counties are working, but the effort must continue until no Veteran experiences homelessness. Communities like this are proving that homelessness is solvable — not just for Veterans but for everyone,” Olivet said.

Last month, at the State of Homelessness Address in Dallas, Housing Forward CEO Sarah Kahn said an estimated 3,718 people experienced homelessness every night in Dallas and Collin counties in 2024, which she claimed is a 19% decrease in overall homelessness and a 24% drop in unsheltered homelessness since 2021.

This week, at the press conference at City Hall, Kahn said a key component in the decrease in homelessness in Dallas and Collin County was “setting our sights on reaching an end to veterans’ homelessness.” A total of 2,265 veterans who have experienced homelessness have been housed in Dallas and Collin Counties since 2019, according to the City.

However, not all city leaders are in agreement with Kahn’s assessment that the homelessness situation in Dallas is improving. Dallas City Council member Cara Mendelsohn (District 12), vice chair of the Housing and Homeless Solutions Committee, has been a vocal skeptic regarding the City’s approach to homelessness. She maintains that homelessness is getting worse in Dallas.

“People in Dallas will tell you that homelessness has grown all over the city,” she said during a committee meeting in April. “If you want to walk right outside, you’re going to see people in our plaza, people at our library … [and] all over the streets. And you can see that anywhere in Dallas.”

Mendelsohn and Council Member Jesse Moreno (District 2) have both questioned the accuracy of the point-in-time (PIT) count, a method used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to collect data on the number of individuals experiencing homelessness on a given day in January at least every other year.

“I question a lot of our [PIT] count numbers,” Moreno said. “The decreases that we’re seeing overall [in the data] — it’s not what I’m seeing each and every single day in my community.”

Dr. Robert Marbut, former President Donald Trump’s homelessness czar, agreed that the PIT count is unreliable.

“It is horrible,” he told The Dallas Express. “Point-in-time data is incredibly inaccurate around the country. If you use the same procedure every year, with the same person running it, using the same definition, and the weather is the same year to year, then your trend date is going to be good. If I were the boss today, I would blow up the point-in-time count. Everybody puts all this weight in it, and it is highly inaccurate.”

Marbut was the driving force behind the development of San Antonio’s Haven for Hope, a model that provides housing and other services, such as health care, substance abuse treatment, meals, and shower facilities, for the homeless population all on one campus. Haven for Hope has been credited with reducing San Antonio’s downtown unsheltered homeless population by 77%.

The same one-stop-shop approach was favored by the majority of Dallas residents in a DX poll, but, for now, the City of Dallas continues to push its Housing First model, insisting that it works and is less expensive than alternative methods.

Polling by The Dallas Express has also found that more than three-fourths of Dallas residents are dissatisfied with the state of vagrancy and panhandling in their neighborhoods and throughout the city.

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