FORT WORTH, Texas - Fort Worth hosted U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson on Wednesday.
The primary focus for the visit was to recognize the city for taking positive steps to help homeless veterans.
This was Carson’s third trip to Fort Worth, and he said the city is on the right track to remedy the problem.
Homeless veterans are clearly among Fort Worth's community of people living on the street, but the topic of how to better serve their housing and other needs prompted a visit from Dr. Carson.
“I just like the spirit of cooperation that I find here. Not that you don’t have cooperation in other places, but it’s at a high-level here,” Carson said.
True Worth Place, a resource center east of downtown, provides services and shelter to many of the city's homeless.
Mayor Betsy Price and Dr. Carson explained that the future goals to manage the dilemma of homeless vets are nothing like the massive housing developments from the past.
“It’s done completely differently now with public/private partnerships, with much smaller units that fit in with the architecture and the culture, that are mixed-income," Dr. Carson added. "And not placed in the middle of an established neighborhood, but placed in an appropriate location.”
A $13.3 million federal grant the city received this year is an increase of more than $1 million from 2018.
That money will support 39 projects operated by 12 Tarrant County agencies.
"I think that will help us go for our housing first project to get more people in permanent, supportive housing,” Price added. “Get more vouchers out, more services for those we do put in housing. You don’t want to put, as you mentioned, people in housing and they’ve got no services. This will go a long way towards helping us get them on their feet and moving forward.”
The mayor and Dr. Carson agreed that the best solutions to help the homeless veteran problem will include new housing options, along with coordination between the government, nonprofits, the faith-based community, and the private sector.
“We must recognize that 1% of our population provides the freedom for the other 99%,” Carson said. “Therefore, we must really have a very special place in our hearts for them.”
The federal grant the city has received this year has so far helped 181 homeless vets find safe housing within 100 days.