Yesterday, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced that HUD would be doling out $1.2 billion in stimulus funds to some 400 cities, who'll use the money to "to rapidly re-house families who fall into homelessness, or prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place." Of that pile, the city of Dallas is slated to get $7,187,357; Dallas County will get close to $800,000. But who, exactly, will get a chunk of that change? And when? Not quite sure, not yet.
Jay Dunn, managing director of The Bridge, tells Unfair Park that most of the local homeless-assistance organizations have applied for the money, and all expect some kind of an announcement "later this month," once state, county and city officials finish sifting through the applications. But the money provided during this round of grant-giving -- and others are expected to follow -- will go toward one very specific purpose: "It's all going to rent and support services." Which means ...?
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"The bulk will be used for rent," he says. When asked to whom that money would be paid, he says it's "for people that are on the verge of being homeless or who are homeless. Both would qualify. And we'll know more about that when we know which proposals are being funded. There could be proposals to prevent homeless or proposals for more of that money to be spent to rapidly re-house those who are homeless. It'll be up to the governments though which the money's being funneled to decide."
Dunn says The Bridge submitted a proposal for "housing-seeker services," while several other members of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance are seeking funds to help the struggling with paying their utility bills. Will any of them be funded? Says Dunn, "I have no idea."
But the bigger question is: Is $7 million enough to even make a dent with the estimated 5,675 homeless living in Dallas? Dunn takes a long pause before answering.
"That's a big question," he says. "Let me say it will certainly help, and, yes, we are eager to see it utilized for [homelessness] prevention and for rehousing. There are legitimate needs for both. I think the question is what happens when this money runs out. It's not just a matter of using the money to keep people from being evicted and moving them out of shelters and into houses. It's about when that subsidy expires in two years and making sure they're in a position to provide for themselves."