The State of Homelessness in 2022
Homelessness prevention is an important part of the work we do at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. That’s because housing stability provides a foundation for our three focus areas: education, income and health. Without a stable home, individuals and families struggle to truly thrive in other areas of their lives.
Well before COVID-19 arrived in North Texas, homelessness was far too common for too many of our neighbors. However, the last few years only exacerbated the issue, as thousands of North Texans lost their income, struggled to pay rent and faced the threat of eviction. Luckily, the federal government, a variety of community organizations—including United Way of Metropolitan Dallas—and countless individuals stepped up to support our neighbors during an unimaginable crisis.
Now that we are firmly in year three of the pandemic, we have a better picture of the longer-term impacts of COVID-19 on homelessness in North Texas, as well as how successful local housing stability and homelessness response programs have been.
2022 State of Homelessness
Thanks to a variety of community programs, this year there has been a decrease in homelessness overall, according to the eighth-annual State of Homelessness Address, presented virtually May 13 by Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA). The event included the results of the 2022 Point-in-Time Homeless Count, an analysis of the data and efforts to make homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring.
The event featured Ashley Brundage, executive director of housing stability and senior vice president of community impact at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, and board chair of the Dallas and Collin Counties Homeless Collaborative; Joli Angel Robinson, MDHA president and CEO; Peter Brodsky, board chair of MDHA; and Ashley Flores, of the Child Poverty Action Lab.
View the full State of Homelessness event below or read on for some of the key insights from this year’s State of Homelessness event.
Overall, homelessness is on the decline
The 2022 Point-in-Time Homeless (PIT) Count found that on any given night there are 4,410 individuals experiencing homelessness in Dallas and Collin counties (almost 4,000 in Dallas County and a little more than 400 in Collin County). This is the lowest count since 2019. Robinson says community programs to prevent homelessness and serve our neighbors who are already unhoused are making a true difference.
“COVID-19 and extreme winter weather greatly impacted individuals, organizations and systems, including our homeless rehousing system,” she said. “Although these events have impacted all of us, the trends supported by this year’s PIT count data, are a direct result of our community’s tremendous commitment to serving our unhoused neighbors, increasing housing interventions, and building our system’s overall capacity to effectively serve those experiencing homelessness.”
Family homelessness decreased by more than 20% since 2019, from 1,025 to 822. This indicates that organizations are finding success by addressing the immediate needs of families who have just lost their housing by helping them find safe alternative housing immediately, when otherwise they would enter a shelter or experience unsheltered homelessness.
Rapid rehousing is proving successful
Data collected throughout 2021 shows that the rate at which individuals exit to permanent housing is at an all-time high, practically doubling between 2018 and 2021 from 16% to 30%. This reflects the increase of rapid rehousing beds from a little over 300 in 2019 to almost 1,100, today. Initiatives like these prevent people from falling into a cycle of homelessness, which can make it difficult to find a job and get back on their feet.
Chronic homelessness and returns to homelessness are increasing
Unfortunately, the number of people who are chronically homeless has increased from little more than 500 in 2019 and 2020 to over 1,000 in 2022. These individuals have experienced long episodes of homelessness, which can cause or exasperate declines in mental and physical health. These findings mirror national trends, which show a surge in chronic homelessness by more than 40% since 2016. (Prior to that, this group was significantly decreasing over time.)
Another concerning figure found in the data collected throughout 2021 is the slight rise in returns to homelessness. Of those who exited to permanent housing destinations, 22% returned to homelessness within two years, up from 17% in 2019. This reflects growing housing costs, which have outpaced incomes, making it extremely challenging for vulnerable families to maintain housing.
As Ashley Flores of the Child Poverty Action Lab said, “No state has an adequate supply of affordable rental housing for the lowest income renters. The housing gap is most acute for the lowest income households.” In fact, a recent report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows that there are only 20 affordable and available rental units for every 100 extremely low-income renters in Dallas.
Homelessness affects Black North Texans more frequently
The homeless count findings show that while Black households make up 18% of the general population of Dallas and Collin counties, they make up 54% of the homeless population in those areas. “This imbalance has persisted, and it is unsurprising. It is a by-product of systemic inequities that continue to perpetuate disparities in areas such as income, wealth, housing, healthcare and incarceration, which directly impact rates of homelessness,” emphasized Robinson, who is the first Black person to lead MDHA.
Homelessness Requires Community-Wide Solutions
Homelessness is a complex problem that requires multifaceted solutions and broad community involvement.
“Homelessness does not exist because of one, single factor—rather, it’s a series of forces that manifest as homelessness,” Brundage said.
She explained that the systems in place to help prevent and end homelessness are just as complex but can be broken down into four parts:
- Prevention programs that stabilize individuals to make sure they don’t fall into poverty
- Housing creation to actively expand affordable housing
- Rehousing services, where organizations engage with people experiencing homelessness, bring them into shelters and then rehouse them
- Street services to manage and care for individuals living on the streets
In North Texas and across the country, COVID-19 exacerbated our preexisting housing and homelessness crises. Fortunately, organizations like MDHA and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, as well as local, state and federal governments, stepped up to help prevent these issues from becoming even worse.
Together, We Can Prevent Homelessness
At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we work to prevent homelessness by improving housing stability for North Texas families and advocating for affordable housing.
As MDHA pointed out during the State of Homelessness event, prevention initiatives have helped more North Texans stay in their homes over the last several years, which has contributed to a 20% decrease in family homelessness since 2019.
One successful prevention initiative is the Dallas Rental Assistance Collaborative (DRAC), which provides rental and utility assistance so people can stay in their homes. In the early days of COVID, as federal relief dollars began flowing to our region to prevent an eviction crisis, the City of Dallas chose us as a trusted partner to help lead DRAC and unite the community around the issue of housing stability.
DRAC enabled us to quickly and efficiently partner with grassroots organizations that are trusted members of their communities and already have well-established relationships with their neighbors. As they received DRAC funds, these partners were able to serve their clients without delay, right where they needed support—in their own communities.
Over the last two years, DRAC has helped North Texas prevent an eviction crisis. Together with our dedicated supporters, United Way and our partners have provided 4,261 households with rental and/or utility assistance, for a total of $14.4 million in assistance distributed to families.
You Can Be Part of the Change
“As you drive around Dallas and Collin counties, it’s easy to see that our unhoused neighbors do not have a safe or adequate place to call home,” Brundage said during the State of Homelessness event. “The only way we will end homelessness is through collective impact: everyone working together toward one common goal.”
We invite you to join the movement to improve housing stability for all North Texans. To support our work in housing and homelessness, we offer three ways to get involved:
- Give: Donate to United Way Dallas to support housing stability and eviction prevention initiatives.
- Advocate: Call your representatives and tell them you support affordable housing throughout our community. And be sure to sign up for our Advocacy Alerts to receive information on our top policy priorities, such as affordable and equitable housing.
- Volunteer: We frequently host volunteer events that support housing stability and homelessness prevention. Fill out our general volunteer interest form, and we’ll let you know about upcoming programs that fit your interests.