Clients of The Bridge, Dallas’ new homeless assistance center, will soon have the opportunity for a new life, thanks to a grant for immediate housing assistance to benefit 50 mentally ill individuals.
The $750,000 grant from the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation at Communities Foundation of Texas will fund a joint effort by two agencies, Dallas County Mental Health & Mental Retardation Center (doing business as Metrocare Services) and Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, to provide housing and to address some of the most persistent causes of chronic homelessness. Funding will support 25 apartments for double occupancy for the chronically homeless as well as case management to address severe mental illness.
In an experimental "housing first" program, clients will be provided a permanent apartment, household items and utilities. Patients will receive services based on the Assertive Community Treatment Team model, an intensive team treatment approach designed to provide comprehensive, community-based psychiatric treatment, rehabilitation, supported employment and 24-hour support to persons with serious and persistent mental illness. According to the Mental Health Association of Dallas, a recent survey of the homeless found that 75 percent of the chronically homeless self-reported mental illness or substance abuse as a major cause of their homelessness.
"The grant offers an opportunity to address the impact of homelessness on the lives of people with severe mental illness, as well as the impact of homelessness on our overall community," said Dr. James G. Baker, chief executive officer, Metrocare Services. "Services are designed to keep the neediest group in our community mentally stable, in permanent housing, off the streets and out of jail."
The grant will provide resources for increased support services and case management of people who will be prepared
to transition into the project’s housing program from The Bridge, Dallas’ new homeless assistance center. Since opening in May 2008, The Bridge has served an average of 700 to 800 individuals each day, several hundred more homeless people per day than the facility was expected to accommodate.
"By serving hundred more individuals with mental disorders and addictions each day, we have turned around and even saved many more lives than expected, but these numbers reflect just how crucial it is that Dallas rapidly increase access to permanent supportive housing for people with disabilities," said Michael Faenza, president and CEO, Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance. "The Caruth grant provides a great opportunity to lead us toward developing the highest quality services for our most vulnerable citizens."
The Bridge provides emergency shelter, transitional housing, full-time psychiatric and primary health care services through Metrocare and Parkland Memorial Hospital, case management designed to transition chronically homeless individuals into permanent housing and many other supportive services.