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 housing discrimination, and living in inhumane conditions. Many of them were mentally ill and lacked access to the services necessary to remain safe and off the streets. Not being the kind of person to wait for someone else to fix the problem, she recruited her family and friends who could provide legal assistance at no cost to those who needed it most.

From 1978 until 1988, the agency’s sole mission was to provide pro-bono legal assistance. It was a difficult time for people 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. Legislation passed in the late 80’s brought about the first time-limited housing programs for the homeless, called Transitional Housing. In the late 1980s, Dorothy started the first transitional housing program at HCC. This type of housing model works very well for those who experience short-term homelessness because of issues like job loss or medical expenses.

Transitional housing programs have had great success, but they failed to help a growing segment of the population consisting of chronically homeless individuals, who typically have severe mental disabilities. Because they are chronically homeless, they typically do not qualify for time-limited housing under federal guidelines. How to help these individuals, many of whom are veterans? Permanent Supportive Housing was the answer, and in 2005, HCC started its first PSH program.

HCC now has three permanent housing programs and one time-limited housing program, each targeting a different segment of the population in need of supportive services to remain housed.