Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance President and CEO Delivers Sixth Annual State of Homelessness Address

Dallas, Texas – Earlier today, Thursday, March 19, 2020, the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA) held its sixth annual State of Homelessness Address. The Address was delivered by MDHA President and CEO, Carl Falconer. He discussed the results of January’s annual homeless count, analysis of these results juxtaposed with actions taken by the homeless response system, lessons of the Coronavirus pandemic, and the next steps the Dallas community must take to make homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Address was held without an audience, and was livestreamed on YouTube. Click through here or below to watch it in its entirety: and click here to download the corresponding PowerPoint. Key points of Falconer’s Address follow. 

Results of the January 23, 2020 Annual Homeless Count:

  • Homelessness decreased 1.4% from 4538 to 4,471
  • Emergency sheltered homelessness decreased 16.2% from 2313 to 1938
  • Unsheltered homelessness increased 11.5% from 1,452 to 1,619
  • Veteran homelessness decreased 14.6% from 431 to 368
  • Chronic homelessness increased 7% from 470 to 503
  • Family homelessness decreased 10.4% from 1025 to 918
  • Child homelessness decreased 5% from 732 to 662
  • The percentage of persons of color in unsheltered homelessness increased from 54% to 61%


Though small, the decrease in overall homelessness is encouraging, and indicates that actions taken in 2019 have begun to arrest the rise in homelessness in Dallas. The decrease in emergency sheltered homelessness and corresponding increase in unsheltered homelessness are less significant. They are, likely, due to the difference in temperature between the two counts, in the 50s in 2020 and in the low 30s in 2019. Closer analysis, however, tells us another story: Even though outreach teams made more referrals to housing from the streets over the last year, our community is still moving too many individuals from one unsheltered location to the next.

The decrease in veteran homelessness comes on the heels of the success of the homeless response system’s focused efforts on this population. This last summer, MDHA held its first Veterans Housing Challenge. Working with the Dallas housing authority, DHA, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and other homeless response system partners, 140 homeless veterans ended their homelessness. MDHA is currently leading its second such challenge under the banner, No Buddy Left Behind, which alludes to the American military tradition of never leaving a comrade behind enemy lines.

The decrease in family and child homelessness coupled with extensive data collected and analyzed by Family Gateway is encouraging. Family Gateway serves as the homeless response system’s “access point” for families. They have been very successful in diverting families to solutions that would end their homelessness, while avoiding the need to go into shelter. This, in turn, has helped Family Gateway achieve better outcomes with those families who needed to go into shelter.

These results should not be viewed in isolation. In order to end homelessness, the Dallas community must not only increase the outflow from homelessness but arrest the inflow into homelessness. Dallas and Collin County Independent School Districts (ISD) report 6,058 children in families, which are “doubled up”. And the Child Poverty Action Lab tells us that, in Dallas:

  • Between 2008 and 2018 there was a 42% decline in low rent units (below $800/month);
  • A minimum wage worker paying fair market rent for a one-bedroom apartment will pay 87% of their income towards rent;
  • In 2016 there were 4,345 evictions or 12 per day.

The Dallas community must address these larger systemic issues.

Lessons of the Coronavirus Pandemic:

 Dallas must apply important lessons from the Coronavirus pandemic. “It is teaching us,” Falconer said, “to look out for everyone in our community. It is teaching us that as a community we can and will go to great lengths to keep each other safe. It is teaching us that our community is only as strong as the weakest in our community. It is teaching us that we are all connected. It is teaching us that a home is more than four walls and a roof; a home is healthcare, public safety, family, community.”

Next Steps:

The homeless response system, governments and the community each must take specific steps. The steps incumbent on the homeless response system include bringing diversion to scale, improving street outreach outcomes, ending veteran homelessness, and increasing incomes in the homeless and formerly homeless population.

The steps incumbent on governments include developing more affordable housing in all areas of Dallas and Collin Counties, removing barriers landlords and property owners face in working with homeless service providers, strategically aligning spending with the goals of the homeless response system, and courageously following the lead of experts in decision making.

The steps incumbent on the community include creating a funders collaborative to direct funding to homeless response system goals, strategically supporting organizations aligned with the homeless response system, and advocating with their elected representatives for more affordable housing in their neighborhoods. The community must refrain from blaming those experiencing homelessness for system failures and must recognize that ending homelessness is better for everyone, not just those experiencing homelessness. Community champions must help get everyone moving in the same direction. “You know who you are. We are ready for you to step up,” said Falconer.

Falconer ended with a passionate call to action: “We have shown we can [end homelessness]; we have shown we must [end homelessness]… The only thing left to show is our will… It is time to show everyone that we will end homelessness.

Presenting Sponsor
Supporting Sponsors
Event Sponsors
Dr. Fred and Shannon Cerise
Children’s Health
Daniel Roby
Ellen Magnis
Promise House
The Salvation Army
Congregation Shearith Israel
St. Matthew’s Cathedral
Temple Emanu-El
The Vogel Alcove

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