Documenters Brief

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Housing Forward sees more than 2,000 residents in homeless system at end of 2023

By Dallas Documenters,
|

January 30, 2024

Dallas News

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Data presented at this month’s Dallas Area Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness meeting led to more questions from partnership members.

Members seemed especially surprised that two-thirds of unhoused residents surveyed in 2022 self-reported that they were experiencing homelessness for the first time, according to Housing Forward’s Homeless Management Information System.

The partnership is a local government corporation charged with advising and assisting the City of Dallas and Dallas County to develop strategies, policies and priorities to address homelessness. Its members are either nominated by the mayor or represent specific stakeholders.

In October, partnership members requested data from the Homeless Management Information System to better understand the system’s overall impact and performance.

Data and statistics of unhoused Dallas residents

These questions from the Dallas Area Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness were answered by Housing Forward in the January meeting:

What is the number of active homeless individuals in the HMIS system as of Oct 1, 2023?

  • 2,136 on that day (“This number will always be an undercount as compared to the Point-In-Time count which shows that 4,244 people experience homelessness on any given night in Dallas and Collin Counties,” and not everyone is part of the continuum’s database, according to Housing Forward.)

What is the number of active unsheltered homeless in HMIS as of Oct. 1, 2023, by subpopulation?

  • 490 people in street outreach programs (people whom professional service providers regularly interact with) broken down into subpopulations:
    • Single Adults ages 25-64: 372
    • Single Adults ages 65+: 36
    • Single Adults ages 1
    • 13 households: 27 adults, 6 children
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What is the number of homeless individuals that were entered into HMIS in 2022 as new, by subpopulation?

Screenshot of Housing Forward memo
  • A total of 7,111 people were in the system in 2022
    • 67% (4,780) individuals were first-time
    • 2% (107) returning from a permanent destination 
    • 3% (240) returning from a temporary destination
    • 10% (679) re-engaging from an unknown destination 
    • 18% (1,305) were continuously homeless

In a memo, Housing Forward said the “data alone does not indicate the health of the system, or how well the community is effectively responding to and ending homelessness for individuals and families in Dallas,” but “as the backbone agency for the All-Neighbors Coalition, Housing Forward actively helps the community use data to evaluate the homeless response system.” 

Unhoused in Dallas: Population data vs. Point-in-Time count

One board member mentioned his concerns about the high number of people experiencing homelessness for the first time. He asked if 4,780 is typical for new individuals in the HMIS system, and whether this number is a result of more people experiencing homelessness or more people being identified as unhoused.

Corporation chair and city council member Cara Mendelsohn said a follow-up is needed to look at and compare prior years.

A board member mentioned a report stating Dallas County’s unhoused population decreased, while the unhoused population in every other major city in Texas increased.

Mendelsohn said the report most likely used Point-in-Time data, which may be unreliable. She said she doesn’t think the report’s count is accurate in alignment with statements from other providers.

Sarah Kahn, Housing Forward interim president and CEO, said the Point-In-Time count is used strictly to measure trends. She said the Point-in-Time count doesn’t include every single person who is experiencing homelessness, but if used year after year, it can be a tool to measure the direction in which we are going. She said there are better tools for a robust look at who is coming into the system and their needs.

Housing Forward representatives stated they hope to meet with corporation members to understand more specifically which aspects of the system require deeper examination.

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Dallas Documenter Catherine Rosas attended the Dallas Area Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness public meeting, and this brief emerged from her notes. Click here to read Rosas’ full notes, and here to learn how you can become a paid Documenter at public meetings.

Not all corporation members are named in this brief because their names were not all visibly identifiable in the City of Dallas live stream, and members’ photos are not on the City of Dallas website.

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