Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Dallas Homeless Census 2008

What follows comes to us from the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance. If you live in or near Dallas, you might want to consider being involved in this unusual process. The "point in time" census of our homeless population is very important to the work we are doing to end chronic homelessness in Dallas by 2014.

It is once again time to conduct the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA) annual Homeless Count & Census.

The census is conducted each year in the last week of January so that Dallas and Collin County can collect information on our homeless residents.

With MDHA's renewed commitment to end Chronic Homelessness by 2014 and the opening of the Homeless Assistance Center in April 2008, the Homeless Count & Census allows us to monitor our progress in achieving this goal. The Census helps us to complete a needs assessment for the community and encourage the development of programs to fill identified gaps. The information compiled during the census is also used by several interested groups, including non-profit organizations, faith-based groups, media outlets and various departments in Federal, State & local government.

DATE: Tuesday, January 22, 2008

TIME: 5:30 P.M. – 12:00 A.M. (subject to slight changes if needed, most volunteers are able to leave by 10:30 p.m.)

LOCATION: Dallas City Hall – 1500 Marilla, L1 F North Auditorium (park in City Hall underground parking off Young Street and enter through the GREEN door.)

HOW TO HELP: Volunteers are needed for both the indoor and outdoor census.

Indoor Volunteer Team Member: Conducts the homeless survey in an indoor location, such as an emergency shelter or transitional housing facility. Law enforcement professionals are not assigned to these teams, but a staff contact will be provided for teams who visit these locations and agency staff will be present.

Outdoor Volunteer Team Member: Conducts the survey outdoors in teams of 3. Law enforcement personnel are also assigned to each team for safety reasons.

Training

Training on how to conduct the census will be provided for volunteers on the night of the census. Volunteers will begin signing in from 5:30 – 6:00, and should arrive no later than 5:45 P.M. in order to receive all of the information presented.

Contact Information

Thank you for your interest! In order to volunteer for the Homeless census or to receive more information, please contact Kit Lowrance at Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance:

Phone: 214-978-0002
E-mail: klowrance@unitedwaydallas.org

5 comments:

c hand said...

A cop for each team? Just how dangerous are these people?

Larry James said...

c hand, I can assure you that this accommodation says much more about the volunteers who will be involved and the city's own "risk management" people/policy than it does about the homeless. As far as I'm concerned, the police can stay home.

Karen Shafer said...

Here’s a quote from Ron Stretcher, the county's criminal justice director, from an article in the Dallas Morning News in November, 2007: (speaking of the expected impact of the new Homeless Assistance Center upon the number of homeless individuals in the jail population)

"The jail is the only intervention we have for these folks [the homeless]," Mr. Stretcher said. "This isn't a population that represents a threat to public safety."

“The county jail has become a de facto homeless shelter for many of the county's estimated 6,000 homeless, who typically are booked multiple times for minor crimes like trespassing.”

Of offenses committed by the homeless, “Only 2.3 percent of cases involved first-degree felonies, and only about 13 percent of homeless defendants entered the state prison system. Trespassing was the most common offense, followed by failure to show up in court and fare evasion. Only 4 percent were able to post bail.”

In other words, most crimes committed by homeless individuals are violations of ordinances that are designed specifically to get them out of sight in the first place, ie. ‘public trespass,’ ‘obstructing the sidewalk,’ ‘sleeping in public,’ -- things that those of us who look middle class wouldn’t get arrested or even noticed for.

Personally, I’ve spent time fairly regularly the past four years at the homeless encampments downtown (now closed) and the Day Resource Center, visiting with homeless people. I’ve only met two people who I felt were mentally ill enough to be avoided, and they simply wanted to be left alone.

There are, however, thugs who prey on and victimize the homeless. This is often characterized as ‘homeless on homeless crime,’ which it is not. There is also substance abuse on the street, as in every segment of the population.

I’m not saying every homeless person is an Eagle Scout. Just that, among them, there are people to be trusted and people to be avoided, as among any group.

owldog1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
owldog1 said...

Yeah my experience working the 1990 and 2000 Census might come in handy. :) I worked in a "lower income" neighborhood in 1990 in Dallas. So friendly, nice and answered questions. In 2000 I worked in a "middle to high income" neighborhood. Not so friendly and did not answer questions.