05/20/2014

Groundbreaking in Dallas – The Cottages at Hickory Crossing

The Cottages at Hickory Crossing broke ground on April 17th, just half a mile from downtown Dallas. This new permanent supportive housing development will be home to 50 of the most vulnerable people in the Dallas area who are currently experiencing chronic homelessness. The Cottages will successfully house people who live with a mental illness and/or substance use disorder and cycle through jail due to a lack of the type of stability that supportive housing can provide.

This development has already received an AIA Dallas Design Award in the unbuilt category for plans to create a healing environment that involves each resident having his or her own cottage in an area that also incorporates common porches and green space for recreation and shared activities, along with solar energy, rainwater collection, and other green features that will enable sustainable urban living.

The CommonDallas County Director of Criminal Justice, Ron Stretcher, shared that the intervention of supportive housing is beneficial on a multitude of levels. “There is a significant and growing body of research that indicates permanent supportive housing is a key service that promotes recovery for consumers and leads to less utilization of costly interventions such as hospitals and the jails.  Research specifically in Dallas found that homeless consumers of the public behavioral health system cost about three times more than consumers with stable housing.  Looking past the strong research, it just makes sense that someone who is homeless needs a stable place to live before they can really start working on recovery.”

Team members include the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance and Dallas County Criminal Justice System as referral partners, the Central Dallas Community Development Corp will own and manage the property, and CitySquare will provide case management services and Metrocare will offer clinical services to residents. This group was convened by the Communities Foundation of Texas.

“The homeless need help the most, and, on the other hand, homelessness is a problem that we could actually solve. There are 400,000 poor people in the City of Dallas, but less than 600 chronically homeless people according to the last official count. I can’t imagine solving the problems of 400,000 people, but 600 is a more manageable number,” John Greenan, Executive Director of the Central Dallas CDC, stated.

CSH provided a $50,000 grant and a $50,000 loan in addition to technical assistance with602_The Cottages_14 support around design, supportive service planning, coordination between property management and supportive services, and assistance with bringing key players onto the team.

CSH Texas Director Dianna Grey says that “CSH has been committed to making this deal happen from the early stages. Cottages at Hickory Crossing will demonstrate that even people who have been on the streets for many years can stabilize in housing and be great neighbors.”

John Greenan, Executive Director of the Central Dallas CDC offered that CSH played a number of needed in roles in supporting this development team. “First CSH was a funder, helping the development out very early on when we needed crucial seed money. Second, as an expert in the process of providing housing for the homeless—CSH was in effect our expert consultant and was invaluable in that role. Finally, and most crucially, CSH stepped in and acted as the convener, and often as a mediator. The Communities Foundation of Texas had invited six of the highest performing nonprofit and governmental organizations in the City of Dallas to work together to design build and operate a model program for housing the homeless and placed a very substantial financial commitment behind that effort. CSH was brought in to lead the group forward and Dianna Lewis-Grey, the head of CSH’s Texas work, managed this effort with endless patience.”

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