1,000-plus housing vouchers for homeless have gone unused in Dallas

The Dallas Housing Authority estimates 1,100 housing vouchers specifically for the homeless have gone unused.

The Dallas Housing Authority estimates 1,100 housing vouchers specifically for the homeless have gone unused.

Daniel Roby, executive director of the Austin Street Center, is working with the city to come up with solutions to Dallas' growing homeless problem. He's frustrated that the money - set aside in the form of housing vouchers - is going to waste.

"We have over 1,000 people who have access to these vouchers who are homeless but aren't able to use them,” Roby said. “They're roaming the streets, calling apartment complex owners to be able to lease their units and are finding themselves left empty handed at the door."

In May, Dallas cleared out 300 people who made their homes under the I-45 overpass. Some went to shelters, some moved in with family and some set up camp elsewhere. Only 33 received housing.

According to a draft report obtained by FOX4, there is federal money available to house everyone who was there.

Frankie Grant is one of the people who could put a voucher to use.

"I ended up here at Austin Street Center because I lost my own home,” Grant said.

Grant is a driver at Dallas Love Field making $8.50 an hour. She has a voucher for an apartment from the Dallas Housing Authority, but she can't find an apartment that will take it.

"Oh there's no vacancies, oh, maybe at the beginning of the year,” Grant said. “At the beginning of the year, I will have lost my voucher then. It only lasts 90 days.”

If the housing vouchers aren't used in Dallas the federal government will give the money to another city and that costs Dallas even more money.

"The average cost of a chronically homeless person is $40,000 or more a year,” Roby said. “The cost of a homeless person in a house could be $6-10,000."

As the economy improves more landlords are taking higher rents over the housing vouchers - meaning the problem might only get worse.

"It's like we're being set up to fail,” Grant said.

Grant only has until the end of November to use her voucher -- or lose it for good.


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