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What is Directions Home?
Directions Home is a 10-year plan to make homelessness rare, short-term and non-recurring in greater Fort Worth by 2018. It aligns the efforts of public, private and social service agencies in our community.

The Directions Home plan was adopted by the Fort Worth City Council in 2008 and is endorsed by the Tarrant County Commissioners Court. Representatives from across the community are involved in implementation of the vision to end homelessness. Business leaders, neighborhood representatives, homeless service providers, current and formerly homeless citizens, and other community representatives champion the plan.

The Directions Home plan emphasizes an approach known as “Housing First,” which places homeless individuals in permanent supportive housing with case management services, rather than sheltering them in temporary or transitional facilities. To date, more than 1,500 Fort Worth residents have found “the shortest way home” as a result.

Read the complete Directions Home plan.

Why should we try to end homelessness?
Ending homelessness is the right thing to do. It is better for neighborhoods, the community, and for people who are homeless. 89% of Americans believe that communities are safer when people do not have to live on the streets.

How does Directions Home end homelessness?
The Directions Home plan brings numerous, independent, homeless-serving agencies in alignment with each other by articulating a common vision and stimulating collaboration. By focusing the efforts of partner agencies, the Directions Home plan allows the Fort Worth community to make greater progress toward eradicating homelessness.

Who is homeless in our community?
On January 22, 2015, volunteers with the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition counted 1,914 people in Tarrant County who were homeless, including:

  • 20% children;
  • 10% veterans; and
  • 24% with a severe mental illness.

It is expected that more than 5,200 people will experience homelessness in Tarrant County in 2015.

What is Housing First?
Housing First provides homeless citizens with a place to call home – such as an apartment – coupled with supportive services. Giving people a place to call home doesn’t mean that ownership of houses is being given away, rather it means providing someone with a place to settle, rather than temporary shelter.

Let’s say a person who is homeless needs both a job and an apartment. It is much easier to conduct a successful job search when you have an address to put on an application, as well as a safe place to sleep, store your belongings and attend to personal care and hygiene.

People who must contend with acute and compound barriers to self-sufficiency like mental illness, substance abuse, and chronic disease also benefit from being quickly returned to stable housing. It makes sense: once the chaos of life on the streets or in an emergency shelter is removed, people are better able to focus on overcoming other barriers to independence that might remain.

Because recovery, wellness and independence are not realistic short-term goals for the chronically homeless, housing alone will not suffice.  To successfully retain housing, the chronically homeless must receive supportive services – psychiatric, clinical and medical services along with social skills, housekeeping, money management, peer support, and job readiness training.

Participants in a Housing First program must comply with a standard lease agreement like any other tenant. Housing First programs do not give up on a person’s ability to change or subsidize illicit behavior. The Directions Home plan does not endorse any program in our community that would tolerate criminal behavior or give up hope in anyone.

Why does Directions Home advocate for a Housing First approach?
The best way to end homelessness is to first help people obtain a place to call home and then address other needs. Housing First produces better long-term outcomes than systems that require clients to meet benchmarks in order to earn housing. Other systems move homeless individuals from the streets, to a shelter, to a transitional housing program and eventually to their own household.

We believe that housing should be first. Once the first and primary need to obtain stable housing is resolved, homeless individuals are better equipped to address other issues which impact housing stability.

Why does it cost less to end homelessness rather than manage it?
Community healthcare costs are lower when homelessness is reduced. When people transition out of homelessness, they add to the workforce and become consumers, therefore providing a positive economic impact to the community.

How is Directions Home funded?
Efforts to end homelessness in Tarrant County are funded through a variety of public and private sources.  Businesses, foundations, philanthropists and individuals, as well as local, state and federal governments, all help make this important work possible.

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