Local Council Works on Homeless Prevention


Plano City Council | Image by NBC DFW

The Plano City Council has unanimously approved the allocation of $1.9 million to combat homelessness.

The funds were received by Plano from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 2021 as part of the HOME American Rescue Plan (ARP) program and are intended to provide housing and services for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Under the HOME-ARP Allocation Plan, households in Plano with an income of 50% or less of the area median will qualify for the funds, according to Plano’s housing and community services manager, Shanette Eaden.

“The majority of the funds are going to be spent on support services,” she said. “Support services [are] homelessness prevention. This program is not going to be operated by City of Plano staff.”

“[Support service funding] is going all to a nonprofit to administer this program. Knowing that it’s homelessness prevention, that means that the person already has a home,” Eaden continued. “This program is to keep someone in their home. It’s to prevent someone from becoming homeless.”

The allocation of the funds will be $1.4 million (73.8%) for support services, $310,000 (15.6%) for tenant-based rental assistance, $110,000 (5.6%) for case management and housing navigation, $50,000 (2.52%) for City of Plano administration, and $50,000 (2.52%) for sub-recipients.

Eaden said that if HUD disapproves of the plan, it has 45 days after the city council’s approval on January 9 to send a letter to the City. If Plano receives no such letter from HUD, the City is free to continue as planned with the allocation of the funds.

Nonprofits, including Housing Forward, Hope’s Door Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, Plano Housing Authority, and The Salvation Army, gave input to the City of Plano as this plan was developed.

“We’ve been working on this since September of 2021,” said Councilmember Rick Grady. “The faster we can get this money out and into the community, the better off our community is going to be, because they haven’t stopped hurting. They are hurting more and more as inflation has been nipping away at the housing industry and as pricing [goes up].”

The City of Plano’s Eaden emphasized to The Dallas Express that these funds will be used to keep people from becoming homeless.

“What supportive services is going to be is a homelessness prevention program, so if someone already has a home, we are going to prevent them from being homeless by paying their rent if their income is eligible,” she said. “If they’re 50% or below the area median income … we will pay their rent for where they’re living and some utilities that [are] needed [for] up to six months.”

According to Eaden, while supportive services are short- or medium-term and geared toward people with homes who are at risk of becoming homeless, tenant-based rental assistance is for people who are homeless already.

“HUD refers to short/medium term rental assistance as an activity that pays the rent and provides case management for someone that is housed, but unable to pay their rent,” Eaden said. “On the other hand, Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) is an activity for someone that is homeless.”

“They do not have a lease/rent when they come into the program,” she continued. “The program assists them with locating a place to rent and then provides rent, utility, and intense case management services to help house the homeless person.”

“While in the [TBRA] program, the individual receives case management services (and any other assistance need to assist them in become self-sufficient such as job training et al) and their rent is being paid for up to 24 months,” Eaden explained. “Upon exit from the TBRA program, an individual is able to pay for their rent and remain housed without further assistance.”

The City of Plano is also a partner in the Dallas R.E.A.L. Time Rapid Rehousing (DRTRR) Program.

“For that program, you have to be what HUD calls a category one homeless, which means you are literally homeless,” Eaden explained. “You are in a place that is not habitable — that would not normally be used for regular habitation, for sleeping premises, or you are living in a shelter operated by a nonprofit.”

Eaden said DRTRR provides participants with case management, helps them move into an apartment, and provides them “with whatever services they need.”

“Case management — that could be budgeting assistance, it could be management credit assistance … or access to additional benefits they could qualify for,” she continued. “Right now, we will help them over a 12-month period to become self-sufficient so that when that 12 months is over, they can continue living in the apartment that we helped them get.”

Eaden also confirmed that case managers will help participants find a job as part of their housing stability plan.

“That housing stability plan will look at everything related to what helps you be successful, and not just attain housing, but keeping the house you have,” she told The Dallas Express. “So that includes job training and things like that.”

If a DRTRR participant is not self-sufficient by the time their rental assistance expires, they could continue to receive support through permanent supportive housing — long-term housing assistance “provided to assist households with at least one member (adult or child) with a disability in achieving housing stability.”

The City of Dallas’ public relations office sent a statement to The Dallas Express which said, “Participants in the Rapid Rehousing program have 12 to 24 months of service, including rental payments as needed.”

According to the City, an individual who was unable to make rent at the end of that period “would have additional support past the 12 months based on plans they’ve made with their case manager toward financial independence.”

“People are paired with Rapid Rehousing or Permanent Supportive Housing based on a thorough assessment of their need,” the statement continued. “If someone is in the Rapid Rehousing program and something changes to necessitate much longer term supports, they would most likely switch to a Permanent Supportive Housing solution.”

This story comes as homelessness and vagrancy concerns have worsened in both Plano and Dallas.

Polling conducted by The Dallas Express found that 63% of Dallasites believe that “homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling” continue to cause “serious problems in Dallas,” while another survey found that 76% of downtown residents believe that “homelessness is a significant issue,” comparing the situation in Dallas to cities like Austin, Houston, Chicago, and New York City.

To deter homelessness and vagrancy, the City of Dallas discourages residents from giving money directly to panhandlers, suggesting that “giving spare change without offering support could make matters worse.”

However, many vagrants continue to willingly live on the street in lieu of utilizing the services offered by the City and non-profit organizations. Despite spending millions of taxpayer dollars every year, the Dallas Office of Homeless Solutions has produced few tangible results.

This may be explained in part by data published last year by the Center on Wealth and Poverty at the Discovery Institute, which indicated that “housing first” solutions are not likely to solve homelessness because they ignore underlying causes of the problem, such as mental illness and drug abuse.

The report explains that “housing first” solutions are thus “doomed to failure” because they “begin with an inadequate diagnosis of the causes.”

One alternative favored by many Dallas residents is a one-stop shop on the model of San Antonio’s successful Haven for Hope, which contains the crisis in a set geographic area while providing services.

If you enjoyed this article, please support us today!

Formed in 2021, we provide fact-based, non-partisan news. The Dallas Express is a non-profit organization funded by charitable support and advertising.

Please join us on the important journey to make Dallas a better place!

We welcome and appreciate comments on The Dallas Express as part of a healthy dialogue. We do ask that you be kind. Kind to each other and to everyone else in your comments. For more information, please refer to our Complete Comment Moderation Policy.

Subscribe to Comments
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments