Council Briefing: Homeless Assistance Center

The City Council was briefed again on the location for the homeless assistance center. All the councilmembers left City Hall in three vans and visited the St. Louis site (which is the first choice of Mr. Dunning’s Homeless Task Force), and the Blue Bell site. At the request of the new councilmembers, we also visited the Industrial site.

I had seen the St. Louis site before, but going out and visiting all the sites, one after another, was very helpful. A number of business leaders are concerned that putting the center at the St. Louis site will hurt businesses and revitalization. The Blue Bell site is not easily accessible from Downtown (it’s across I-30 and hard to get to on foot). Same for the Industrial site, which is far from current homeless services (though the services could arguably move), and right in the middle of the Trinity Park.

When we got back to City Hall, one thing we all agreed on was the need to make single-room occupancy units (“SROs”) part of the bond package. We are NOT going to “fix” the homeless problem by building an intake center, and we would be wrong to try to sell it as such. It’s not a shelter, and it won’t house the 6000 homeless in Dallas. What it will do is direct the homeless to helpful resources (mental health, drug rehab, job training, etc.). In addition to the center, we need SROs to help some of the homeless back on their feet and back into society. Cities that have dealt successfully with the homeless problem also incorporate SROs.

Next week, we’ll discuss the size of the bond package to put before the voters in the November election.

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