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Homes for the Homeless: MDHA's Plan to End Chronic Homelessness in Dallas By 2015

One of the more intriguing council briefings tomorrow will be given by an old friend of Mayor Mike Rawlings: Mike Faenza, president and CEO of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance. The title of his PowerPoint isn't very sexy -- "Permanent Supportive Housing Plan" -- but contained within is what Faenza hopes is a blueprint for ending chronic homelessness in the city of Dallas by 2015. No small goal.

"And I know I'm at risk at looking like Don Quixote," he says this afternoon. "But there's such a logic to it, ain't there? In my head, this works."

And by "this" Faenza means building at least 1,800 new permanent supportive housing units between now and 2015, a plan underscored in November, when MDHA released its annual homeless census. How? Well, through low-income tax credits (which, as we noted earlier, are getting harder and harder to come by), the feds' Continuum of Care program or by partnering with the Dallas Housing Authority, whose president, MaryAnn Russ, will join Faenza tomorrow. Says Faenza, the DHA will play a critical part in all this, as MDHA and DHA partner on putting permanent supportive housing units in existing public housing structures.

"I think we can do it," Faenza tells Unfair Park. "I'm going to try to sell that it can be done. It's defining what chronic homeless means. It's not a one-time event. It's overtaking it and having a process every day of the year and identifying people who are disabled and homeless and making sure you rehouse them in permanent housing before a year is up. ...

"Projecting 1,800 units is a lot of new units to add on to the almost 2,100 we have in place, and we need to minimize new cases to 800 to 1,000 over the next four years, which means the public mental health system needs to pay attention to housing. They need to create data that is continuously updated and shows the newly homeless in order to build incentives into the system. With a strained financial bureaucracy it sounds like an impossible job, but what makes it doable is it costs them one-third to one half to serve somebody who is housed than when they are homeless, so there's a huge financial incentive. MHDA has a plan, and we want the council to embrace the plan."

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Tune in tomorrow at 11 a.m. Till then, read Faenza's plan below.

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