Sunday, June 28, 2009

Call and Response, Part II

Today I’m posting my answer to the email I posted yesterday.

Ms. ________:

Unfortunately, as you have found out, the safety net that should exist to help people in your circumstances is full of holes. Although I run Central Dallas CDC, I am no better than third out of a four person staff in my knowledge of the various programs that exist to provide housing for people in circumstances like yours. I will ask the people on my staff with the most knowledge to see if they have any ideas where you may go for help.

Central Dallas CDC owns or manages a little over sixty units of housing and we have another 200 units that will become available in the next few months. Some of our projects have housing units that might be affordable for you, but all of our developments have waiting lists. I will ask that you be put on the waiting lists, as well as _________, unless she prefers not to be placed on the waiting list, but that is unlikely to provide you with any help over the short term.

I will also give you some advice, which you may or may not find helpful. It appears to me that you might advantageously think of your problem in two parts: short term and long term. In the short term I think it would be best if you took the steps necessary to remain in some type of housing, regardless of the cost. In that regard, I do not think you can afford to pay over $400 per month in storage fees. If I were in your shoes, I would remove any item of purely sentimental value from storage and sell, donate or, as a last resort, throw away the remaining items. I do not know what items you have in storage, but it may be that the value of those items, when combined with your savings on storage fees, is sufficient to keep you in housing for at least some time.

If you can find a source to pay a month's rent or so (we don't provide any monetary aid), I also think you should take advantage of that opportunity. It is much harder to become housed than it is to stay housed.

For the longer term, I cannot recommend much beyond what you are doing. If you have not, I would contact the Plano Housing Authority about receiving a Housing Choice Voucher:

Plano Housing Authority

1740 Avenue G
Plano, TX 75074
(972) 423-4928

The waiting list may be long, I know it's impossible in Dallas, but the earlier you are on the list, the better. There are also some funds set aside to prevent homelessness in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that was signed into law in February by President Obama. Those funds have not yet reached local agencies, but should reach them in the next several months. When those funds become available, then there should be at least a short period of time when housing assistance for people in your situation should be more available. I think that's another reason to remain housed, if you can do so, even if only on a temporary basis. Finally, if any other organizations have waiting lists for housing assistance, I would ask to be placed on those lists. The more possibilities you have open to you, the better the chances that something will turn up.

I also have a request. If I remove the identifying information from your email, may I post it on my blog? Your statement of the problem is elegant, and we are always looking for ways to bring home the problem with housing to people.

Once again, I will have my staff look into what may be possible, and if we have any ideas someone will be in contact with you.

Until then, may God bless and protect you.

John P. Greenan
Executive Director

Central Dallas Community Development Corporation
2814 Main Street, Suite 102
Dallas, Texas 75226-1551

Telephone No.: 214.573.2570
Cellular No.: 214.681.5648
Facsimile No.: 214.573.2575

I haven’t received any response to my email, but I took silence as acquiescence to posting the substance of this email exchange here. Every case is unique, but a number of the issues that this person has are typical. Illness and medical expenses are a common cause of homelessness—while many homeless people have substance abuse problems (but not all), sometimes it is the result, not the cause, of homelessness. Some people that never had substance issues find that once they are homeless, any escape looks good.

People are also amazingly resourceful. Find a roommate, combine resources and stay housed. But people can also be amazingly slow to adjust to changes in there circumstances. Why keep paying storage fees? My guess is that because letting all the items you’ve accumulated during your life go is an admission that you will never again have what you once had. That’s hard for any of us.

No comments:

Post a Comment