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FORT WORTH — In 2008, Mayor Mike Moncrief and countless community partners set a course and a vision to end chronic homelessness in Fort Worth. The plan was called “Directions Home,” and it continues to chart a path to our ultimate goal.
Fort Worth has made great progress on the homeless front. But much work remains to be done. While Fort Worth has been an opportunity oasis in a national economic desert, there are still many among us who are without work, hungry and homeless.
One of the major recommendations from the Directions Home plan was to build and operate a Central Resource Center to provide health and other social services to our homeless. That Central Resource Center is still yet to be built.
But, thanks to The Fort Worth Foundation, and our partners at JPS Health Network, I’m excited to announce that the vision for this greatly needed Center will soon be a reality.
By 2014, we will have a new Central Resource Facility that will not only fill an important need in our community; it’s going to help save taxpayer dollars.
In 2011, a JPS study identified more than 230 homeless patients who were frequent users of the health network’s emergency and inpatient services. These homeless citizens incurred charges of more than $10 million—yes, 230 people, $10 million! Those findings reinforced the need for medical services previously outlined in a report prepared for Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks.
Instead of using emergency rooms for healthcare, unsheltered and emergency sheltered residents will soon be able to use our new Central Resource Center to access needed health services. It will be located near the Presbyterian Night Shelter just southeast of downtown.
Half of the 25,000-square-foot Central Resource Center will be a health clinic for primary and preventive care; chronic disease management; behavioral health services; and podiatric, orthopedic and dental care.
The non-clinical portion of the facility will provide better access to services for the homeless as they pursue stability, self-sufficiency and opportunity.
Over last two years, I've stressed the importance of using private dollars for public good. We called on the private sector to give back to the city that’s given some much to them. Countless partners have answered the call. Today, we're using more private investment than ever before to leverage public dollars—that’s good for taxpayers!
Our announcement to build this Central Resource Facility for the homeless—all with private dollars—is our biggest victory yet when it comes to public/private partnerships.
We are grateful that the Fort Worth Foundation answered our call for help, and we are also delighted that the good folks at JPS Health Network will be a strong partner in this effort.
Collaboration, compassion, generosity—these are the special attributes that make Fort Worth one of the greatest cities on earth. And, it will be these community attributes that help us find a direction home for those among us caught in the grips of chronic homelessness.