Advocates for homeless say Dallas faces affordable housing crisis

Dallas faces a growing crisis of affordable housing for people trying to transition out of homelessness, advocates say.

The issue of affordable housing is bigger than Dallas and it's bigger than Texas -- but it is causing major issues for the homeless community in the city.

"We have 100 individuals who are ready, and we are trying to find what we describe too often as a needle in a haystack,” said David Woody III, The Bridge President & CEO.

Woody’s job is to not only provide shelter to the homeless in Dallas, but to also provide services to transition them back into homes. Woody is also trying to make room for the estimated 1,000-plus homeless there is not enough room for at the facility.

"To get them onto the campus means that I need to also get folks into their own home, as well, and so, I'm running into a bottleneck here,” Woody said.

He said the barrier is only becoming bigger as the city grows and property values go up. Woody said Dallas does not have enough affordable housing and the city is short 20,000 affordable units, which means he can't transition 25 women and 75 men who are ready to stop being homeless and get their own apartment.

Ironically, he says a new apartment complex going up next door to The Bridge has units starting at $1,300 -- even more than the average price of a one bedroom in Dallas, $985.

"Which is disappointing. It's painful to folks,” Woody said.

It's causing him to look as far out as Kaufman and Denton counties for housing.

"If I had a vision, it's that I would partner with some of the folks right here, invite them onto our campus, see what kind of work that we're doing and just ask them, 'Hey, how many units would you be willing to make available to a homeless individual?” Woody said.

That's the question Tristan Thomas is now asking landlords in Dallas. She is leading a new rapid re-housing program at The Bridge, made possible by a grant through the City of Dallas.

"This is brand new, and we have several hits actually,” Thomas said.

Through the program, The Bridge will pay a transitioning homeless person's rent for up to three months. They'll also cover application and utility fees, and double the security deposit as an incentive to the landlord.

In just 60 days, Thomas has already secured five units for transitioning homeless people in Dallas.

"Most of the time if they do accept what we're offering, it's because they have a heart,” Thomas said. “At the end of the day, it's about second chances."