The number of people without a home continues to rise in Dallas and Collin counties. That includes veterans and people sleeping on the street, according findings from the 2019 homeless count.
Like the 2018 count, Dallas and Collin counties saw a 9 percent jump in overall homelessness. There was also an 11 percent increase in the number of people who have been homeless for at least a year — what's known as chronic homelessness.
On any given night, there are more than 4,500 homeless people in those two counties. More than 400 of them are veterans, says Carl Falconer, president and CEO of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance.
"There are resources out there," Falconer says. "There are systems in place to help veterans become housed. We just have to coordinate the systems better and bring them all together."
In his annual State of the Homeless Address, Falconer laid out a new plan. A top priority is having a better grip on where homeless men and women are staying and where they could be housed instead.
"Having a better data system that everybody can use, and sharing the data between all of our systems, I think, is going to be really important to move us forward," Falconer says.
The Homeless Alliance hopes to have a new data system in place by January 2020. Falconer says that would help nonprofits, health care providers and the criminal justice system better communicate. He also wants partner with the private sector.
"Some of the ideas are like a funders collaborative where we get funders together who, instead of separately funding initiatives," Falconer says, "they come together and they basically pool their dollars to have a larger impact in very specific areas."
Christine Ortega, vice president of the Collin County Homeless Coalition, wasn't surprised by what the homeless count revealed.
Ortega says with Collin County's rapid growth, there's a need for more emergency shelters in the area. She thinks the county's unsheltered homeless population is actually undercounted. The annual point-in-time homeless count takes place in late January. This year, temperatures were in the 40s.
"They're primarily in cars and motels or maybe found somewhere to stay because it was so cold that night," Ortega says, "so our unsheltered numbers are significantly less, and every single year, I know that they are bigger than what we actually report."
— Syeda Hasan (@syedareports) March 14, 2019