Dallas’s politicians are becoming more concerned about the problem of homelessness. Although the Dallas homeless population is not as large as that in New York City or Los Angeles, it’s still comparable to those in Seattle and San Francisco. However, it seems that there may be an underreporting of the North Texas number of persons living in poverty without affordable housing. A point-in time survey found that there were at least 4,000 homeless individuals in Collin and Dallas County. The majority of them reside in Dallas County, the largest city offering the best services to homeless people. Blacks make up half of Dallas’s homeless population. Males are responsible for 70%. (Adkins, 2018). The point-in time assessment showed that approximately one in three homeless people were found on streets or other areas uninhabitable. One in five shelter individuals were in a family with children. 40 percent were homeless and living in poverty for at least one year. 37 percent have been unsheltered for more than 36 months. 24 percent claimed they were suffering from a serious mental condition and 22% said they suffered from drug abuse or addiction. The 2019 homeless census for Collin and Dallas counties revealed 4,538 people, which is more than the 3,000 total just five years ago.
Dallas’s reasons for homelessness
According to activist, Texas’ primary reason for homelessness is the lack of affordable housing. This is especially true in San Antonio and Austin which are the most affected by Texas’ population growth. In smaller towns, however, many low-income families are still experiencing problems. The problem in Dallas right now is the shortage of housing affordable for people on the border of homelessness (Adkins 2018, 2018). However, experts warn that the main cause of homelessness is the collapse in social institutions, including the criminal justice system and healthcare providers. It is extremely difficult for homeless persons to access affordable, high-quality healthcare, treatment for drug addiction, or mental health treatments.
Instead of being cooperative, Dallas neighborhood agencies’ efforts to address homelessness are chaotic, underfunded, competitive. While they addressed the obvious problems, non-profit organizations tended to focus on minor aspects of the problem. This meant that the organization could not solve the real causes of homelessness. Dallas also faced a dilemma: How to find millions in funding and shelter places while keeping residents’ opposition at bay. McCullough et. al. (2015) state that the results achieved are modest and not as good as expected. Instead of an integrated, coordinated strategy that would have allowed homeless persons to be moved to permanent housing, many emergency strategies were employed.
To meet the growing needs of those who are homeless, several community outreach programs have been set up in Dallas. Parkland and Children’s Health Fund collaborated on the Homeless Outreach Medical Services project (HOMES). This initiative provides medical, dental, and mental health services to homeless children and adults (Shé et al., 2018). Dallas County has five mobile medical clinics that provide health services. Every clinic has a toilet, a pharmacy, class D, exam rooms and a nurse station. There are weekly clinics in many areas.