People sleep on the streets, in the parks and behind the buildings of the city because they don't have homes.
The business community in Dallas wants the homeless removed from sight. Bad for business. Bad for property values. Bad for sanitation and the condition of sidewalks and buildings. Bad. Bad. Bad.
Many city leaders and not a few residents believe building a new homeless assistance center will really help address the problem. At least the police will have a place to take the people they find asleep on our sidewalks.
Funny to me. Hardly anyone heard what Tom Dunning, the chair of Mayor Laura Miller's task force on homelessness, really said in his briefing earlier this week. Oh, he finally got around to unveiling the task force recommendation on site selection for the new homeless center.
But first he talked about solutions, real solutions to the challenges posed by people sleeping on the streets. Way to go, Tom! Thankless task and you did it well.
Homes. That's right. That's what Mr. Dunning said. So simple that almost everyone misses it!
People are homeless because they don't have homes. Er, I think that is what the word means!
Dallas needs SROs and lots of them. Single Resident Occupancy (SRO) units--hundreds of them. Relatively small and inexpensive efficiency apartments for currently homeless persons to lease. Places they can consider and call home.
Many homeless Dallasites qualify for various benefits that would allow them to lease apartments like these. From a business standpoint--the best way to approach the problem--SRO development and management works.
Presently Dallas has less than 200 such units. Six thousand homeless. Two hundred homes. Get it?
Developing SROs in downtown areas has worked in every major urban center where they have been attempted. Cities that address the need for homes find that they don't need to worry about "getting the homeless out of downtown." Once in homes, these folks turn into neighbors! Nice transition.
Without homes we cannot possibly make a dent in the real issues of homelessness.
Shelters are not the answer. Shelters are to homelessness what food pantries are to chronic underemployment and hunger. They simply are not enough.
We must have the courage, vision and good sense to take the next step and offer homes to those who do not have them.
In coming posts we will discuss the "place first" movement that tells us when people take possession of spaces they can control and consider their own, many of the chronic problems associated with homelessness dissipate quickly.
Homes--that's the ticket!