Dallas and Collin’s homeless population shrinks, but chronic homelessness is on the rise

Slightly fewer people are homeless in Dallas and Collin counties, but more people are chronically homeless than in the past, the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance reported Friday.

The number of people homeless in the two counties during the 10-day period of the 2022 annual tally was 4,410, officials said Friday during the organization’s state of homelessness address. That’s down from 4,570 in 2021.

A total of 3,996 people have been declared homeless in Dallas County, of which 1,324 are considered homeless, meaning they are not seeking housing in shelters and are living on the streets. In Collin County, 414 people have been reported, including 56 who are homeless.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of people reported to be chronically homeless, meaning homeless for more than a year. In 2022, 1,029 people were declared chronically homeless, compared to 327 in 2021 and 505 in 2020.

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MDHA President and CEO Joli Angel Robinson said that was not surprising. Homeless people see fewer pathways to housing, and homeless advocates do a better job of assessing and documenting these populations.

Permanent supportive housing, which provides long-term rental assistance and intensive supportive services, has increased 5% since 2020 in both counties.

“These results are consistent with national trends that show an increase in chronic homelessness of more than 40% since 2016,” she said. “Before this time, this group had declined significantly…These gains are rapidly eroding, signaling a growing number of people trapped in a cycle of homelessness.”

This is concerning because the chronically homeless are a particularly vulnerable population, Robinson said. Long episodes of homelessness can cause or exacerbate decline in mental and physical health.

Family homelessness, which includes victims of domestic violence, has risen from 559 in 2021 to 822 this year. Veteran homelessness fell to 314 from 375 in 2021.

This year’s homeless count, which took place from February 24 to March 5, may also have been affected by freezing temperatures that forced some normally homeless people to seek emergency shelter, said Robinson.

Since 2020, the sheltered population, which includes people in emergency shelters, transitional housing and shelters, has increased by 6%. Over the same period, the unhoused population decreased by 15%.

The number of rapid rehousing beds has fallen slightly from 1,108 in 2021 to 1,092 this year, the data shows, but the number of people leaving the homeless service and moving into permanent housing is down record high at 30%, up from 20% in 2021 Rapid Rehousing, which provides services such as housing support, enables clients to bridge the gap between homelessness and permanent housing.

Data also shows that more people return to homelessness within two years of staying in emergency shelter, safe shelter, transitional housing or permanent housing. Of those who left permanent housing, 22% returned to homelessness within 2 years, down from 17% in 2019, but down from 28% in 2018.

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Robinson said a lack of affordable housing and the end of the moratorium on COVID-19-related evictions could have driven the increase.

“We know that the eviction court data shows that the number of evictions filed has increased,” Robinson said. “We can only hope and be sure that we put a structure in place so that we can stop people from becoming homeless first.”

The MDHA also provided an update on Dallas’ real-time rapid rehousing initiative on Friday. Last June, the City of Dallas and Dallas County joined MDHA, DHA Housing Solutions for North Texas, Mesquite, Grand Prairie and Homeless Collaborative in a $72 million partnership to provide housing for 2,700 people.

The objective is to offer 2,000 people a year of housing assistance. More than 750 emergency housing vouchers are to be given to families, victims of domestic violence and people with long-term physical or mental health conditions who may not be eligible for the rapid rehousing model.

About 1,255 people have been enrolled in the initiative since November 2021, according to MDHA data, including 599 who received emergency vouchers and 656 in rapid rehousing programs.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in collaboration in our system, with our service providers, to move forward on many of these huge goals that we’ve put in place as an organization,” Robinson said. That means not just our city partners, our county partners, but our direct service providers who are really looking into this space.