The Housing Crisis Center (HCC) was founded in 1978 by Dorothy Masterson as the Dallas Tenants Association. Dorothy did this because she saw something that bothered her – people being unlawfully evicted from their homes, facing great housing discrimination, and living in inhumane conditions. She wouldn’t stand for it and waiting for someone else to address the problem wouldn’t work for her, so she recruited her family and friends to provide legal assistance at no cost to those who needed it most.
From 1978 until 1988, Dorothy ran the agency with the sole mission of providing pro-bono legal assistance. The 1980s were not good for those with serious mental health conditions. A new war was starting in the US, a war on some of the most vulnerable populations of our society, including the severely mentally ill.
In 1988 the Congress passed the first piece of homeless assistance legislation, the McKinney-Vento Act. McKinney-Vento gave rise to what today is called Transitional Housing. This is housing for the homeless that is time-limited. In the late 1980s, Dorothy started the first of three transitional housing programs at HCC. Transitional Housing works very well for those who experience short-term homelessness because of issues like job loss or medical expenses. HCC continues Dorothy’s work with our Home Again program that currently serves 60 families.
Lawmakers in Washington acknowledged the success of transitional housing, but at the same time the homeless population was growing. This population was made up of chronically homeless individuals, who typically have severe mental disabilities. Because they are chronically homeless, they typically do not qualify for transitional housing. What to do with them? Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) was the answer.
In 2005, HCC started its first PSH program. HCC now has two PSH programs exclusively for veterans (Veterans Housing Partnership and Permanent Housing Services) and one more primarily for families with children (ACE).