Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Asking the wrong question. . .

A friend asked me a question recently about homeless people and the number of beds available to them on any given night in Dallas.

"Larry, some people say we don't have enough beds, while others say there are more than enough available and open to the homeless," my buddy said. "What do you think?"

Lots of questions come my way and my answer is the same, "Sorry, I haven't a clue."

But in this case I had an immediate answer.

"Wrong question," I said. "It's neither. It's not how many beds we have or don't have. It's a matter of the kind of beds we have."

We don't need more beds in Dallas.

We need more bedrooms.

A bed count will do nothing for mixed use, economic development; job growth or income creation.

As a matter of fact, building out warehouses to "bed down" the poor is a bad idea, except for emergency, short-term, transitional situations.

But you build bedrooms and everything else follows naturally!

Who are the homeless in Dallas?

Not long ago I read over a one-page summation of the "demographics of homelessness" in our city captured over the past 4-5 years. The count approached 10,000 individuals.

Interesting and sad stuff.

Here's a bit of what's been discovered

52% are male
38% are female
10% did not report

42% African American
Less than 1% Asian
12% Hispanic
Less than 1% Native American
27% Anglo
18% Other

Less than 16 9%
16-17 2%
18-20 3%
21-25 7.5%
26-30 9.4%
31-40 23%
41-50 27.5%
51-54 6.5%
55-60 5%
Over 60 6.6%

Marital Status
Married 7.5%
Separated 6%
Single (never married) 27%
Single (divorced) 27%
Widowed 1.3%
Unknown 30.7%
Other Less than 1%

Folks need homes, including bedrooms.


Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff. Is this study available online? Or a similar one?

Thanks for the work you do. Great blog.

Larry James said...

Not that I know of. Sorry. This data came from the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance and was gathered in the annual homeless census conducted here.