What follows appeared as the lead editorial in yesterday's Dallas Morning News.
Our team of housing developers here at Central Dallas Ministries appreciates the support we are receiving from our major local newspaper, as well as from the Dallas City Council and our mayor, Laura Miller.
It seemed appropriate to post the editorial in its entirety.
The next two weeks will be a critical period to the success of our endeavor to bring high quality, affordable housing to downtown Dallas.
Shelter and Hope
Tower for homeless holds great promise
12:00 AM CST on Saturday, March 11, 2006
Not to insult anyone's intelligence, but the problem with the homeless is that they don't have places to live. We're talking here about the problems they cause for the rest of us – primarily making us uncomfortable by loitering, panhandling and doing things in public that should be done in private.
Undoubtedly, many other problems contribute to their plight, chiefly mental illness and addictions. Those also must be dealt with if their numbers are ever to shrink. But No. 1, as far as solving our problem with the homeless, is creating places where they can live until and while those other issues are addressed.
That's why Central Dallas Ministries' plan to turn a 10-years-vacant office tower into affordable units for homeless and low-income people is potentially very good for downtown Dallas.
Like everything else in life, it must be done well to have real value. Shoddy work produces shoddy results. But in principle, Central Dallas Ministries has hit the nail squarely on the head.
The City Council has already endorsed this strategy by including money for such projects in the bond proposition that will fund the new homeless assistance center (which is designed to provide the services homeless people need). Central Dallas Ministries is requesting $1.75 million of that money for its project at 511 Akard, which would include 209 residential units as well as ground-floor retail and two floors of offices for the agency itself.
Look at it another way: If the city can spend $70 million to redo the Mercantile complex and nearby buildings as residences for affluent people, why can't it spend $1.75 million on residences for people who desperately need the help?
Some will say: Yes, but let's house the homeless somewhere besides downtown. The editorial board is willing to bet that City Hall's doors would be open if those voices showed up with their own proposal to raise $17 million from other sources (as Central Dallas Ministries is attempting to do) and build the same number of units away from downtown.
If fact, here's a thought: Go for it.