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‘Housing first’: Dallas’s new strategy for the city’s most costly homeless people

March 20, 2016

These are strange-sounding tenant requirements, but The Cottages at Hickory Crossing is an unusual kind of project. It is a “housing first” strategy: find the homeless a permanent place of their own before trying to solve their problems, rather than the other way around.

The fifty 400sq ft units are set to open in April in north Texas. Despite its bucolic name, Hickory Crossing is wedged between freeways a mile from the city’s high-rises, with railroad tracks, warehouses and the nightlife of the Deep Ellum district close by. One of the nonprofits that has raised the funds for the multimillion dollar project, CitySquare, has an Opportunity Center across the road offering a variety of services for low-income Dallas residents.

“In order to live across the street you have to be chronically homeless, disabled, with some presenting mental health issue, typically drugs or alcohol, and you have to have a criminal background. If you haven’t been in jail you can’t stay in our houses,” says Larry James, CitySquare’s CEO.

The process of selecting tenants is under way. It began by identifying the 300 most expensive homeless people in the county, based on their cost to city services such as the health and prison systems…(more)

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