Fort Worth

$10 million health, resource center for homeless coming to Fort Worth

People pass time outside the Day Resource Center on East Lancaster Avenue in Fort Worth in July 2014.
People pass time outside the Day Resource Center on East Lancaster Avenue in Fort Worth in July 2014. Star-Telegram archives

A $10 million health clinic and resource center for the homeless is coming to East Lancaster Avenue, with construction on the long-anticipated project expected to start in June.

The Fort Worth Foundation is picking up the tab and will build a 25,000-square-foot facility with classroom space, hygiene services, office space for other homeless agencies and storage lockers where the homeless can keep their belongings, said Ted Blevins, executive director of True Worth, the nonprofit created by the foundation to run the facility.

A John Peter Smith Hospital clinic will occupy about 12,000 square feet on the same lot, at 1513 Presidio St., Blevins said.

Mayor Betsy Price announced the expected construction at the Day Resource Center’s annual Breakfast With the Mayor on Friday.

“We have seen little drawings about it, a lot of talk about it, and it will be a state-of-the-art facility that will bring much-needed healthcare, additional day-resources facilities and a lot of pride,” Price said.

The project was announced in April 2013, but Blevins said officials spent about a year studying other cities’ facilities and models. The nonprofit is working with local professors and social workers to study which services are most needed.

Construction will take about a year, Blevins said.

“We hope it makes a statement that we cherish those lives that are struggling and that we want to give them the best opportunity to find housing and a home and support them,” Blevins said.

The JPS clinic — which will include medical, dental and behavioral-health services — will treat 120 to 140 patients a day and is expected to cut healthcare costs, said Dawn Zieger, project director of community health for JPS.

“We wait for something urgent. We wait for a crisis, and when we only deploy services in a crisis situation, you create a crisis dependency,” Zieger said. “We want to get in front of that and be proactive in people’s healthcare.”

The cost of one visit to the emergency room, where most homeless residents get medical care, will pay for 19 preventive-care visits, Zieger said.

JPS is creating a homeless outreach team, to deploy within the month, that will go into shelters and street camps to treat people, she said.

‘A broader approach’

At Friday morning’s fundraiser, Price also said the city will focus on creating permanent supportive housing, including wraparound social services for the nation’s hardest-to-house homeless individuals.

“We have to concentrate on where it makes the most sense, and that is permanent supportive housing. And we have to take a broader approach to that,” she said, applauding a recently approved mixed-income project near Lake Worth that will have 230 units, up to 30 of them permanent supportive housing.

The complex, on Quebec Street near Loop 820 in northwest Fort Worth, will be built by the Miller-Valentine Group with a $3.5 million grant from the city. The announcement comes after a homelessness task force said the city needs 600 more units of special housing to eliminate chronic homelessness.

“It will be the first permanent supportive housing facility in the Lake Worth region. … It is a creative plan, and it will be a plan we replicate all over the city,” Price said.

The annual fundraiser for the Day Resource Center, which provides daytime services and social services to the homeless, exceeded $70,000 in donations.

Caty Hirst, 817-390-7984

Twitter: @catyhirst