In a presentation to the Citizens Homelessness Commission on Thursday, a Dallas official detailed options for using alternative housing for the City’s homeless.

“This is something that we are bringing back to the [Continuum of Care],” said Christine Crossley, director of the Office of Homeless Solutions. “We visited multiple locations across the country to view best practices” for temporary and alternate housing.

Crossley discussed several dwelling options, including permanent industrial, tiny homes, and temporary or manufacturing housing.

“We have housing with a permanent foundation, which falls under industrialized housing,” she said. “That would qualify for multiple types of housing. Manufactured housing is housing without a permanent foundation. Our next product type is a pallet home. They do not readily come with what is considered a permanent foundation and are not intended for long-term use.”

Crossley pointed to tiny home communities in Austin and Seattle as examples. In Austin, the 225-unit Community First Village costs $4.8 million to operate annually, with a capital cost of $18 million. For the 24-unit Tiny Home Village in Seattle, the annual operating cost is $464,000.

In Los Angeles, a 6.8-acre parking lot is being used to house manufactured homes at Arroyo Seco, Crossley said. The 123 units are no more than 100 square feet and cost $9,000 per unit. At pallet shelters in Colorado, California, and South Carolina, it costs a combined $12.7 million annually to run the sites.

In Atlanta, 20 shipping containers have been retrofitted for 40 studio apartments at an initial cost of $5 million.

“While these units can afford a larger amount of space per person,” they cost about $126,000 each, Crossley said.

Commissioner Dori Wright said she was “excited” about the housing options. For his part, Commissioner Matt Jacob asked Crossley more about Community First Village.

“I notice that Community First Village in Austin is one of the locations that you’ve lifted up for industrial housing,” he said. “Have you or your team done a site visit … to see what it looks like?”

Crossley answered, “It’s been a long time [since that visit].”

“I think we’d have to go back and look at it again. The zoning is so different, and things have changed so much. We have enough to go on here based on the criteria we’ve been given, though. I do think it’ll be interesting to see who applies to the NOFA. I don’t want to get ahead of the NOFA, I think,” she said.

Open to non-profit and for-profit applicants, NOFA, or notice of funding availability, promotes mixed-income development projects “that directly target funds and incentives towards pre-defined reinvestment strategy areas. This program leverages city-owned land, public/private partnerships and support social impact projects, while following the compliance rules and limitations associated with funding streams.”

To fund a pilot program for any housing methods offered in the June 13 presentation, the timeline would be 12 months, including 50 units at “feasible locations,” and entail a one-time capital expense of $1 million in taxpayer money. No sustainability funding is available to operate the pilot, so that money must come from private partners, Crossley explained.

Housing Forward CEO Sarah Kahn reported in April that an estimated 3,718 people experienced homelessness every night in Dallas and Collin counties in 2024 — a 19% decrease in overall homelessness and a 24% drop in unsheltered homelessness since 2021. Since May 2023, 324 people in Dallas and Collin counties have reportedly found shelter through permanent supportive housing, and 2,405 individuals and people in families have been housed through diversion, as covered by The Dallas Express.

One of Dallas’s most pressing issues is homelessness. Polling has indicated that more than three-fourths of Dallas residents are dissatisfied with the City’s vagrancy and panhandling situation. Respondents have also expressed their support for a “one-stop-shop” homeless services model similar to that of Haven for Hope in San Antonio. The model has reportedly reduced unsheltered homelessness in San Antonio’s city center by 77%.

Some local stakeholders are looking to launch the “one-stop-shop” model in Dallas, but it is unclear if City officials are willing to experiment with the project.