Cindy Crain has been on the front lines fighting against homelessness for seven years. She’ll be leaving the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition (TCHC) to run the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA), which covers Dallas and Collin counties.
For this week’s Friday Conversation, she talks about that move and the challenges in tackling homelessness in North Texas with KERA’s Vice President of News, Rick Holter.
Interview Highlights: Cindy Crain…
…On making the move from Fort Worth to Dallas:
“In my community…I’ve put into place the basic infrastructure for our emergency response system and I’m leaving my community strong. When I learned of the opening at MDHA, I thought ‘why not? It would be a tremendous career challenge.’”
…On how THC reduced chronic homelessness:
“In January of 2014 during our Point In Time count in Tarrant County, we had a spike in chronic homelessness – 267. We knew we had to do something significant in the way we did business.
We did that through something called ‘coordinated assessment.’ Essentially, [that means] taking all those individuals who were experiencing homelessness and do a thorough assessment of their homeless status, and prioritizing those who were chronic to receive permanent supportive housing. In nine months of that process, we reduced the number of chronic homeless in Tarrant County to 147.”
…On the downside of ‘The Texas Miracle’:
“This is the challenge in North Texas: those headlines go out that this is the land of opportunity, this is where you should move and find a job, and the reality is our housing market is so tight. It’s 96, 98 percent occupancy in apartments. There’s no affordable housing.
…People move here, they try to find work and they may not find it. We had some success five or six years ago reducing homelessness and now its creeping back up. For years, about 16 percent of the homeless in Tarrant County weren’t from the area. Now it’s 30 percent and that only happened in two years. As the population continues to grow and affordable housing is not available, we’re going to have to face the challenge of a growing homeless population.”
…On a personal story that has touched her:
“There’s a woman who I see many mornings at my local coffee shop. I heard her story of the violence that she’s experienced, why she sleeps in the coffee shop during the day because she has to stay alert at night, why she doesn’t go into the emergency shelter. It just continued to restore that my work here isn’t done…there’s just so much to do.”
The Tarrant County Homeless Coalition will release its latest count of the homeless population. The “State Of The Homeless Address” will be on February 11 at 9:30 a.m. at the Salvation Army Mabee Center in Fort Worth.