- What do you see as one or two of the greatest challenges to helping the homeless and the hungry in North Texas?
The two greatest challenges to helping members of our community who are experiencing homelessness are the lack of affordable and supportive housing and the increasing poverty in Dallas. An estimated 22 percent of Dallas residents live in poverty and 48 percent of renters in Dallas live in housing that is unaffordable given their income.
- How would you describe your mission, and how are you specifically helping the homeless and the hungry?
The Bridge’s purpose is to end adult long-term homelessness in Dallas and the surrounding region by providing assistance and recovery services to citizens in need. Guests at The Bridge are provided with emergency and transitional shelter, meals, primary and behavioral health care, income and housing placements, educational and recreational services, and much more. The Bridge last year served more than 9,000 individuals, and since opening in 2008, it has surpassed more than 2,000 job placements and 2,000 housing placements.
- Can you give us an example of a person (named or unnamed) who has benefited from your services? How have they benefited? If it’s appropriate, tell us a short story.
When you lose someone you love, your life can spiral out of control before you know what hit you. That’s what happened to Judith when her husband unexpectedly died. She became overwhelmed by depression and started living on the streets.
It was the most difficult time in her life. Not knowing where her next meal would come from or where she would be sleeping each night took a huge toll on Judith emotionally, physically and mentally. She had little hope, and the only thing that kept her spirits up was the companionship of her dog, Budwizer. (Judith intentionally misspells the name to avoid confusion with the beer.)
When she decided to seek help, Judith learned that The Bridge was the only place that would allow her to keep Budwizer, whom she had grown to love like her own child. While he stayed in The Bridge’s on-site kennel, Judith was able to receive meals, shelter and treatment for her depression.
After a full recovery from homelessness, she was placed into an apartment in June 2015. Judith expressed her appreciation to the fantastic staff at The Bridge for helping to save her and Budwizer.
- Is there anything new that you are focused on for the coming year? Any new initiatives?
The Bridge is endeavoring to continue to partner with organizations and government agencies to increase developments inclusive of affordable housing and link such developments to support services for people with long-term needs. The Bridge is also working to increasingly partner with contributors and agencies to expand services, programs, facilities and other related assets in order to sustain positive impacts in light of increasing community needs.
- What else should North Texas residents know about your work?
Since The Bridge’s campus opened in 2008, serious (Part I) crime has dropped 49 percent, and millions of dollars have been saved through reductions in the number of people experiencing homelessness who spend time in the jail, hospital and court systems.
The Bridge is supported by the Downtown Residents Council and downtown corporations through fundraising and other volunteer activities, and The Bridge has been collaborating to help develop the surrounding area.
The Bridge is supported by Dallas voters, as evidenced by overwhelming support at the polls for two bond referendums that funded its development and a survey in April 2015 of registered voters by The Dallas Morning News, which indicated that more residents favor reducing funding for law enforcement and parks than cuts to homeless services should the City of Dallas’ budget need to be reduced.
Help agencies like The Bridge by donating to the DMN Charities here.