In the next three months plus, Dallas and the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance plan to reduce the city's count of homeless veterans by 25%. They plan to take the most direct route possible to achieving that goal — getting housing for at least 100 of the city's estimated 400 former service members experiencing homelessness.
The plan, which successfully found homes for 140 vets in 2019, works like this: Veterans hoping to participate attend an admissions event at the Veterans Affairs in order to ensure their eligibility for the program.
Once they're verified, those participating head to the Dallas Housing Administration to get what's called a HUD-VASH housing voucher. HUD-VASH stands for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – VA Supportive Housing.
After receiving their voucher, veterans participating in the program have to find properties that will accept them — often easier said than done in Dallas — and get DHA to sign off on their rentals. After moving in, vets participating in the program will get help from a case manager.
Dallas, for its part, is charged with rallying reluctant landlords to participate in the program and, potentially, helping the homeless alliance with city funding if some veterans don't qualify for the HUD program.
Mayor Eric Johnson stressed the difficulty experienced by veterans returning from combat.
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“We know that veterans often return home with both physical and emotional pain ... We ask our veterans to return to a routine life and contribute to society — to pursue the American dream after living through the nightmares of war,” Johnson said on Twitter. "I hope one day we can put an initiative like this out of business because we will have eradicated veteran homelessness in our city."
Karen Hughes with the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance said the city should work toward making every homeless resident a priority.
"There's actually a bigger message here that we don't want to forget," Hughes said at a press conference announcing the initiative according to KTVT . "We know we've done it with some of our veterans. We can actually, as a city, do this for every single homeless person that is in this city."