Homelessness is a far-reaching epidemic that affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. Each year in January, the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance conducts the Point-In-Time Homeless Count. The January 2019 count found that an estimated 3,722 people were homeless in the city of Dallas. The results of the count are summarized in a State of the Homeless Address, presented in 2019 by Karen Hughes of the National Chamber of Commerce Foundation. According to the address, Dallas has experienced an 8% increase in unsheltered homelessness and a 16% increase in emergency sheltered homelessness, resulting in an overall increase of 9% in all homelessness in Dallas over the past year. Lack of temporary housing across the county has reinforced the cycle of homelessness.
Since opening its doors in 1954, Dallas LIFE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency, has been dedicated to alleviating the ongoing homeless crisis. Dallas LIFE was founded as a homeless shelter by Robert J. Key. Following WWII, homelessness was rampant, and shelters were scarce. In a small storefront location on Commerce Street, Key sheltered and provided a hot meal for 25 men each night.
Dallas LIFE’s mission statement is “to radically transform the lives of homeless people through Biblical, accountability-based programs.” Dallas LIFE is focused on three pillars – help, hope, and health. The agency provides shelter, food, education, and critical resources to the inhabitants who stay at Dallas LIFE. Its 100,000-square-foot facility can house up to 700 persons and includes 50 individual family unit rooms. During extreme cold spells, Dallas LIFE’s “mat night” program creates additional temporary space. Throughout the year, all guests are provided three balanced meals per day.
Dallas LIFE recognizes that healthcare is a fundamental human right. The 500 inhabitants who stay at Dallas LIFE have access to a variety of health services offered by on-campus medical and dental clinics. Given that mental health is a critical component of overall health, all residents of Dallas LIFE can participate in individual and group therapy sessions with counselors on a consistent basis, free of charge.
Additionally, Dallas Life guides residents through job readiness training and addiction recovery programs included in “The Homeless No More Recovery Program.” The program has been around for 16 years and has a 90% success rate at helping people fully recover from homelessness. In the 10-month program, participants are guided to honestly evaluate past struggles, current options, and future potential for an independent life through a full schedule of recovery classes. Program material focuses on anger management, alcoholism recovery, job readiness, men’s and women’s issues, budgeting, and more. Participants are given GED assistance, résumé prep, and job search assistance. The program produces around 75 “graduates” each year who have gained full employment and housing.
Dallas LIFE is more than a homeless shelter; its recovery programs and health assistance transform lives. As a flourishing independent nonprofit organization with a rich history, Dallas LIFE provides help and hope for all those it serves.
“DALLAS LIFE, RECOVERY FOR THE HOMELESS.” DALLAS LIFE, RECOVERY FOR THE HOMELESS, https://www.dallaslife.org/.
Hughes, Karen. “State of Homeless Address 2019.” Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, Jan. 2019.