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Dallas mayor proposes new agency to combat homelessness

October 1, 2016

DALLAS (AP) — The mayor of Dallas is proposing the formation of a multi-government agency to solve the homeless crisis in a city where affordable housing is limited and shelters are full.

Mayor Mike Rawlings provided details of the plan this week to The Dallas Morning News (http://bit.ly/2dg2Npy ) and said a formal proposal will be presented to the city council later this month.

He argues that municipal leaders must collaborate with county, state and other government entities for a continuum of services for the homeless.

But a central question is how to fund such an agency. One model could be Dallas Area Rapid Transit, a regional transportation agency that’s funded by a 1-cent sales tax collected from 13 member cities.

Dallas is struggling to provide permanent supportive housing and other solutions for thousands of homeless people, many of whom are staying in tent encampments they’ve set up in parts of the city.

Rawlings formed the 40-member Dallas Commission on Homelessness in May to create strategies to move people off the streets in the wake of the closure of a tent city under Interstate 45 once home to about 300 people.

The city council recently approved adding another $1 million to the housing budget to hire more case workers to find shelter for the homeless. But the city is still contending with a fragmented nonprofit system.

The head of the Commission on Homelessness, Britton Banowsky, said it’s important that there be “some ongoing structural oversight so we can deal with this for the next decade.”

Dallas is lagging behind other cities in helping its homeless. The network of organizations that provide services has lost nearly $2 million this year in federal transitional housing funding because of low performance.

“We’re a problem child,” said Cindy Crain, president of Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, which administers federal homeless funding in Dallas and Collin counties.


Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com

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