Cody at Stewpot

Cody, a junior political science major, received a public service internship award from the Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility this summer. She will be working with the Stewpot in downtown Dallas. She plans to attend several City Council meetings and to learn about the public policy of homelessness and how it is changing in Dallas, with the opening of the new and nontraditional Bridge Homeless Assistance Center. She hopes to help the Stewpot understand the attitude of the city toward the homeless population and the reflections of that attitude in city policy.

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Chronic homelessness: What about the other 5,000?

In 2001 there was a national call to end chronic homelessness. Basically, President Bush and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development told cities they needed to develop 10-year plans to end chronic homelessness. Mayor Laura Miller got the ball rolling, and a 10-year plan was developed and finished in 2003. Apparently, cities across the country have these plans to end chronic homelessness.

But what I want to know is, why do we focus exclusively on chronic homelessness? A person is defined as chronically homeless if they have been homeless for a long time (a year or more) and suffer from something that prevents them from becoming un-homeless (mental illness, chemical dependency, disability, etc.).

But get this – when MDHA did its point-in-time homeless count in 2008, only 611 of 5,869 were chronically homeless. The percentage was similar last year. I am sure there is some reasoning, but I am going to ask Mike Faenza about it because I find it a little puzzling (my last week’s meeting was rescheduled to this week). Maybe ending all homelessness is just too big of a task?

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