Seven hours after the completion of the census to count the homeless in Dallas last Monday evening, Texas Department of Transportation officials literally scooped up several homeless campgrounds under bridges and overpasses along Interstate 45.
Ironically, only hours before city census takers passed out new blankets and coats to homeless Dallasites. Many of those helpful gifts were lost in the "homeless clean up."
WFAA TV--Channel 8 quoted Steve Fitzpatrick, a homeless citizen of Dallas, who observed, "People bring us clothes, blankets and things to stay warm. Now the police are going to take it all and throw it in the trash" (Tuesday, January 25, 2005).
You got it, Steve. Officials filled five dump trucks full of "housing," clothing and other belongings in the clean up.
Officials were unapologetic. The Department of Transportation enforces a "no tolerance" policy when it comes to loitering on state property.
I can understand that. The highway right-of-way is no place for people to live. And TxDOT's mission is not housing or social services.
But, what a whopper of a contradiction for a city! We count you one day. We disrupt your life completely the next.
Dallas remains one of the most contradictory cities in the nation.
Apparent concern for the homeless, but no real action.
Churches everywhere, but no movement toward a better community for everyone.
Charity among our community boasting points in every Chamber of Commerce fact sheet. Justice in short supply.
Wealth, opulent luxury. Poverty, crushing poverty.
People without homes have to go somewhere. Shelters are not a long-term solution. Ever slept in one? Think about it.
Dallas needs homes for the homeless. Dallas needs homes now.
Where's the leadership, where's the political and spiritual will to get it done?
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