The "Heart of Dallas Partnership" doesn't want to see the City of Dallas build the proposed new, Homeless Assistance Center (HAC) downtown.
The group is signing up business owners, leaders and political types to oppose the upcoming November ballot initiative that would authorize bonds to the tune of $23.8 million for the new construction.
These community leaders are more than willing to see the HAC built outside downtown's Central Business District across I-30, over in North Oak Cliff or up Harry Hines Blvd. somewhere, but not in downtown.
Shoot, even your friendly neighborhood would offer a better site to this group! Any takers out there?
In a recent letter the "Heart of Dallas" group mailed all over town, they site an economic impact study authored by Bernard Weinstein, economics professor at the University of North Texas.
Weinstein claims that locating the HAC downtown would be something like, oh, I don't know, say removing electric service from the Central Business District!
While I am sure there is validity to some of what the well-intentioned professor reports, his analysis and the folks at the "Heart of Dallas Partnership" overlooks one simple, common sense reality:
No matter what we say or do or plan, the homeless are going to be in our downtown area.
No matter where we build the HAC--and I believe voters should and will approve the bond proposal because we desperately need this community tool to better face the challenge of homelessness in the city--homeless persons will migrate back into the Central Business District every day.
If the HAC is downtown, the problems associated with loitering and panhandling will be more easily addressed and managed.
Place the HAC anywhere else this side of the Red River and ironically, the very thing the "Heart of Dallas Partnership" folks fear most will certainly keep happening, but with a much less satisfactory outcome than if the center is located "where the action is," so to speak.
Fear is a powerful emotion.
Tied to investments and capital and it becomes overwhelming.
The Mayor's Taskforce on Homelessness, led by Tom Dunning and populated with smart, devoted citizen volunteers, produced a well-reasoned report that identified the best available site for the HAC.
We should follow their advice.
And not primarily for the sake of the homeless of Dallas.
The real benefit will be to the urban investors who are most eager to see our downtown revitalized economically. Put the HAC outside the inner circle and no one will be happy for long.
Other urban centers have proved this up through their experience. We should go to school on the evidence provided by other communities.
The HAC that is being planned will be a marvelous tool to begin challenging the growing problems surrounding homelessness in Dallas.
More on what the HAC could and should be later.
Interestingly, the "Heart of Dallas Partnership" has developed an eye-catching logo, complete with the Dallas skyline and a big red heart hovering over the city.
Real irony there.
As a good friend of mine would say, "all hat and no cattle" in this case when it comes to genuine community heart.
The bond issue should and, I believe, will pass in November when the citizens of Dallas form an electoral partnership that displays our true heart as a community.
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