DFW County Claims Drop in Homeless Veterans

Veteran's homeless tent
Veteran homeless tent | Image by F Armstrong Photography/Shutterstock

While the number of homeless veterans has increased across the United States in recent years, it has reportedly been decreasing in Tarrant County.

There are over 630,000 people in the United States who are either homeless or vagrants, and out of that population, 67,495 (more than 10%) are veterans, The Military Wallet reported in 2023. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs reported that veteran homelessness increased by 7.4% nationwide and by 13% in Texas that year.

Veterans are 50% more likely to become homeless than other Americans, according to the VA. Some of the reasons cited for this disparity are mental health struggles, such as PTSD, financial issues, and a lack of support networks.

However, as the country sees an increase in homeless veterans, Tarrant County has allegedly found a way to curb the homeless veteran population by providing the housing and work training that they need, as reported by CBS News Texas.

Army veteran and former Fort Worth City Council candidate Jason Ellis spoke with The Dallas Express about the issue.

“Supporting our homeless veterans is not charity; it’s a debt we owe for their sacrifices in defending our freedoms and way of life,” Ellis said.

According to Lauren King, executive director of the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition (TCHC), veteran homelessness has dropped by 42% since 2018.

TCHC is a non-profit group that works with 40 partner agencies to provide “guidance and resources to ensure that interventions are effective and efficient for people in need,” according to the organization’s website.

Ray Starling, a disabled, retired Army specialist who serves on the advisory committee for TCHC, said he knows firsthand what it is like to live on the streets.

After serving overseas in Germany, Starling returned to the United States and began a career designing and manufacturing miniature starships and military figures while caring for his terminally ill mother. When she died, he discovered her house had a reverse mortgage. The bank claimed the house and sold it at auction, and Starling became homeless.

“It was pretty rough. It was the streets,” Starling told CBS News.

Starling was just one of many who received assistance through TCHC and the agencies it partners with, including the VA.

“The VA has invested in homeless prevention, stopping veterans from ever losing their housing and giving them a chance to stabilize, provide them with case management, and give them a chance to get back on their feet again,” King said, per CBS News.

In nearby Dallas, Mayor Eric Johnson recently announced that the city proper and Dallas County had received an official designation for having “effectively ended homelessness among veterans.”

“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,” Johnson said.

However, overall homelessness has not been eradicated in Dallas, and more than 75% of Dallas residents are dissatisfied with the rate of homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling in the city, according to polling conducted by The Dallas Express.

Relatedly, a “one-stop-shop” approach to tackling homelessness, offering housing and other needed services on one central campus, has polled favorably among Dallas residents.

San Antonio’s Haven for Hope utilizes this one-stop-shop model and claims to have reduced the unsheltered homeless population in its downtown area by 77%. Dallas County and Tarrant County have yet to implement such a model.

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