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Dallas nonprofits work to ‘effectively end veteran homelessness’

Two tents at a homeless encampment in Dallas.
Keren Carrión
/
KERA News
At the beginning of the year, Dallas city officials began shutting down the homeless encampment known as "Camp Rhonda." In March, organizers reopened the camp by setting up tents steps away from City Hall, at Pioneer Plaza, in downtown Dallas, as a way to protest the city’s treatment of the homeless community.

Since 2019, the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA) has been working to provide transitional housing that would “effectively end veteran homelessness” in the city. On Wednesday, the organization hosted a housing fair in honor of Veteran’s Day.

“Today is about matching folks to permanent housing units, and getting folks leased up,” said Sarah Kahn, the chief program officer with the alliance.

Kahn also detailed how the organization helps veterans in more concrete ways.

“Really supporting people to go through the application process, to negotiate with landlords and to then actually move into those units by providing flexible financial assistance,” she said.

The organization also provides mental and physical health resources to help veterans while they look for a home. With the help of the city and private partners, Kahn added that the alliance has helped make a lot of progress in the last two years.

“Right now we're at a position where we have under 300 veterans that have been identified as homeless across those two counties. And 60% of them are actually on a pathway towards permanent housing, meaning that they've been referred to housing resources,” she said.

While the work the MDHA is doing has been effective, Kahn has noticed how many veterans have fallen through the cracks of the systems currently in place to assist veterans.

“I think [about] the trauma that is involved with that experience for many people when they come back," she said. "We are a residual system that supports people after they've fallen through many of our systems to move back into permanent housing. But we need to ,really as a country and as a county, do a better job of preventing people from coming into homelessness.”

Got a tip? Email Haya Panjwani at hpanjwani@kera.org. Follow Haya on Twitter @hayapanjw.

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Haya Panjwani is covering breaking news for KERA. She also served as a legislative fellow for The Texas Newsroom during the 2021 legislative session.