Tuesday, May 5, 2009

One More Lament

So the mayors of the largest cities in Texas have gotten together to get $50,000,000 from the state to deal with homelessness--to be more exact, chronic homelessness. The Dallas Morning News is behind it, as stated in the leading editorial this morning.

Where is the $50m coming from? Who knows, but trust me, some prevention $$ somewhere will be cut to make it happen. The $3m that Dallas hopes to get will go primarily to The Bridge, the homeless assistance center, which has a $7million annual budget, which already gets $3.5million from the City of Dallas, which is also now going to get ALL of the County Emergency Shelter Grants funds (which used to be divided between 6 or 7 agencies that serve different homeless populations), which is also getting substantial funding from large foundations, which also does NOT serve familes or unaccompanied teens, which also serves only 10% of the homeless population, but which gets the lion's share of city, county, and now state funds allocated to the homeless.

Promise House receives $40,000 from the city through the Emergency Shelter Grant fund, none from the County (now that the Bridge gets it all--we used to get about $25,000 to pay utilities for our group home for homeless teen mothers), and none from the state. We serve over 7,000 teens and family members annually through prevention, intervention, and outreach services.

But the sqeaky wheel gets the grease, the loudest baby gets the most food, the important people get the ear of the king. And I mean the Bridge is a BIG baby that is in constant need of ALOT of food to keep it running and has many important people supporting it. Meanwhile, the rest of us who serve the majority of the homeless population (women with children, teens, families, battered women), are forgotten.

I am NOT saying we don't need the Bridge. What I AM saying is that we need attention paid to the entire homeless population, not just the chronically homeless. And we need to be honest about the impact of the Bridge on the funding that is available for the rest of us. If you have a never-ending $7million mouth to feed added to the already existing mouths to feed, and the $7million mouth is louder and more important than the others, someone will go hungry! And it won't be the Bridge!

The irony is this: as I continuously lament, we will never end chronic homelessness in Dallas or anywhere else until we provide intensive help to the thousands of young people aging out of foster care, the juvenile system, or who have been separated from their homes through no fault of their own. THEY ARE THE NEXT GENERATION OF CHRONICALLY HOMELESS ADULTS. It makes me want to pull every hair on my head out THAT NO ONE IN HIGH PLACES GETS THAT!!!

Somebody in a high place PLEASE get that, and PLEASE get that it takes money to help these kids.

I am getting pretty hoarse.

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