MDHA spearheads homeless relief through data-driven model

The MDHA CEO explains

By Joli Angel Robinson

Editor’s note: This is a guest blog from Joli Angel Robinson, the president and CEO of Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance.

I’m grateful for the work happening at Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA).

MDHA’s role is to create and support effective collective impact in furthering the work of more than 100 public, private, and nonprofit institutions in our community that serve people experiencing homelessness. Our system is able to do this by working toward a unified goal, under a unified strategy, informed by data. Since I started at MDHA in August 2021, I have seen firsthand the tremendous work of MDHA and all of those within the system to make the experience of homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring.

MDHA serves as a backbone organization, focusing on collaborative goal-setting to prevent and end homelessness. That work centers on helping people become quickly and stably housed with the use of data. This data helps us gauge progress and determine the extent to which our system is able to effectively reduce the number of people who become homeless and help them become quickly and stably housed.

There are a few critical initiatives happening within this space. Through Dallas R.E.A.L Time Rapid Rehousing, we have been able to sharpen our collaborative approach. Through this transformative process, we created additional partnerships to expedite housing, align federal and local financial resources, streamline many of our structures and processes, and form a centralized team to focus on landlord engagement and unit acquisition. With an eye to the future, we are also working with our community partners to add much-needed permanent supportive housing.

Racial equity is a focus of our work. Much of what we do also utilizes data to understand any racial disparities that may exist for those participating in services and being housed. With this level of analysis, we can help identify and respond to systemic inequities, which could potentially be evidence of landlord bias or inequitable screening criteria resulting in households of color being denied housing.

Last year, our annual Point-in-time-Count saw more than 4,200 individuals (both sheltered & unsheltered) who were experiencing homelessness within Dallas and Collin counties. We know there is much work to be done to evaluate root causes, understand barriers to housing, and work with community partners to significantly decrease those numbers.

This work is necessary and rewarding and there are amazing individuals and organizations that serve our unhoused population. If I had parting words for those who don’t work in this space every day, it would be that the stories of those experiencing homelessness are varied and the solutions to ending their homelessness require diverse approaches.

Joli can be reached at joli.robinson@mdhadallas.org. You can donate to MDHA by clicking here.

Wright Connatser attorney Robin Minick serves on the board of MDHA.