Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Basic human and civil right


I know.

I'll take hits for this one. 

But we have a real problem in this city. 

A civil and human rights problem. 

Kim Horner's story that ran in The Dallas Morning News on Sunday reports on the efforts of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance and the Dallas Housing Authority to inform and work with homeowners near apartments where homeless persons will be provided homes, permanent homes accompanied by supportive services and, even more important, basic friendship.

I think it is important to read the story, like all of Horner's work.  To do so, click here.

Let's get the facts straight.

Fact:  The men, women and children renting the apartments in different parts of the city (we've funded projects in North Dallas and Oak Cliff) have found the funds they need to obtain good places to live.  They now have a means to move from the street and shelters to permanent homes.  Big deal, very big deal, at least for them. 

Fact:  In most cases the homeless and their housing providers aren't asking the City of Dallas to do anything, as is the case with the projects reported on in Horner's story.  The only time city approval is needed is when tax credit deals or city funds factor in the equation.  As a  result, providers or residents are not required to obtain approval from the City Council.  Funds, non-city funds, are in hand for the specific purpose of providing stable, decent, safe housing for those who qualify, for those who need it most. 

Fact:  To deny such people housing due to neighborhood objections is a violation of federal law.  Most of the population in question are disabled.  Thankfully, we have laws that protect the disabled in this country.  Denying housing to these folks also violates the Fair Housing Act.  Denying housing to the qualified homeless invites, possibly guarantees, a federal law suit. 

I'm all for informing the neighborhoods affected, so long as the process doesn't imply to neighborhood groups that people who need housing will not be able to get it. 

I'm all for "educating" citizens about the effectiveness of Permanent Supportive Housing, and it is very, very effective.  The people being informed need to match the efforts of public leaders by investigating the approach themselves before they close their minds to the benefits. 

I'm all for communication and conversation. 

But, at the end of the day, the folks are going to be housed. 

Concessions to opposition just aren't possible in view of the federal guidelines--read "laws" here, civil and human rights statutes. 

So, talk all we want. 

At the end of the day, homeless persons are going to be housed. 

Thank God.

[I wrote the post above last Sunday evening.  In today's edition of The Dallas Morning News, Kim Horner reports that the Dallas Housing Authority will begin moving hmeless persons into the Cliff Manor development.  To read her story click here and here.]


Anonymous said...

Thank you for today's post - while you may get hits for it, I for one am glad to know that this project cannot be stopped. Education is a combination of information and experience. Maybe the residents who oppose it now will soon learn that their fears are unfounded.

Anonymous said...

There's the moral issue here: we are talking about human beings, who are all made in the image of God. we ALL deserve the privacy, safety and peace that comes with having our own place to live. Correction--NONE of us really "deserves" it. But if we believe the wealthy are entitled to it, then so are the poor.

Then there's the practical issue: The homeless who are moved into Permanent Supportive Housing aren't bothering anybody a bit. They are doing the same things in their homes that everybody else is--eating, sleeping, fellowshipping with friends and trying to make a life.

So, no offense "conscientious objectors," but take a good look in the mirror and realize how few steps away we ALL are from being homeless and then get over yourselves.

Anonymous said...

This post, though noble, completely misses the point of the upset in neighborhoods across Dallas. Yes, some people want none of these people housed in their neighborhood. Most people are asking to be informed well in advance of such a plan and -- as is the case with just about every business coming to our neighborhoods -- get feedback from us as to how that might happen in a way that will not destroy our neighborhood agenda at the same time. In other words, work together to shape and design a permanent supportive housing solution that is a win/win.

That is what the DHA and MDHA have utterly failed to do. Instead, like Big Tex with thumbs looped inside his overall straps, they have marched into neighborhoods and shoehorned what they want without any communication or real engagment whatsoever.

And THAT is the point you fail to either acknowledge or accept about the pushback that is completely and utterly justified.

Anonymous said...

Why should anyone feel the need to notify people that others who possess the means, with the same rights as current area residents, are moving into an apartment building that has served as public housing for 40 years? Add to this that most of these new residents are members of a legally protected class and that the owner of the property is committed to upgrading the property and adding supportive services and you have an irrational uproar over nothing. This is especially true given the record of other Dallas permanent supportive housing developments.

Anonymous said...

"Add to this that most of these new residents are members of a legally protected class "

What's sad is that I am not a legally protected class. I have invested in my home and neighborhood but have NO protection. Since the announcement of PSH at Cliff Manor my property value HAVE dropped. Essentially, my home is not sellable b/c no one is interested in living in such close proximity to 100 PSH units. Will they be that bad? Probably not. I look forward to the possibility of this being said and done and behind us with GOOD neighbors in the PSH units (assuming that they are good). However, in the meantime I get to be unemployed with a house on the market that won't sell b/c of the publicity this has garnered as a result of DHA's approach to this entire process. Maybe, just maybe, had they gone about it in the proper manner and not created an uproar I wouldn't be in this position.

I say again, it is very sad that I am not a protected class... an average guy with no job, a house to sell that won't sell because of the media resulting from DHA's poor process and my savings being depleted. I guess the good news to come out of this is that I may soon be a protected class when I lose it all and find myself homeless. Maybe then I can go to the DHA and get assistance.

Anonymous said...

Another statement from Betty Culbreath on July 28th:

I told you people when that statement was made I emailed Councilman Neuman told him, Mary Ann should have told them the truth,it's a violation of Federal law to stop the moving of Public Housing residents. Homeless is not a define special group,you cannot discriminate against people because they are homeless. Ex Offenders are a define special group with different criteria and rules are different. If only Elected Official knew the rules.

Anonymous said...

had their been no publicity, no press release, no stories about this. . .had the people just moved in, no one would have known, the property would have improved, and no one would be worrying about prop values, etc. irony: all the shouting from the neighborhood has hurt only the neighborhood
Joe W

Anonymous said...

Larry, instead of taking the tax credits - which would seem to be the cause of the need to go public with all of this - for the PSH process, why not NOT take the credits, and do the process 'under the radar,' so to speak?

Anonymous said...

I think you hit the nail on the head, Joe.

Anonymous said...

so i ask Mr. James: what about MY basic human and civil rights that i work so hard for? do those just fly out the door because the homeless are suddenly more deserving?? i came very close to being homeless - "couched surfed" for over 3 months, luckily never ended up on the streets but had no home for a while... but i fought, i worked hard, and i overcame. and now i have to give up my basic human and civil rights for others? how does that work???

Scott said...

So an experimentation in an unproven theory of PSH is worth more than protecting the value of the most important investment these middle class individuals and families have in their life which is their home.
Wonderful priority there in you human rights tool box.

Anonymous said...

Nothing residents love more than getting a little faith-based finger-wagging from the Homeless Mafia.

Thanks for reinforcing every stereotype we have, padre.

Bev said...

I have been following this story. And we are all humans with basic rights.

My room mate and I live in OC and in have a house for over 10 years. We pay taxes. Our home is valued at a six figure number.

Right now I am unemployed due to a job cut in a company that downsized. Since it has been almost two years, I did get unemployment for a while. I am looking for full-time work, but right now, I am doing temporary jobs until I do.

I am also taking medication for depression/bi-polar. But this is because my doctor was able to diagnose me, since I was addicted to pain killers and was not well.

I say this because it seems the only thing I keep hearing is that many of these people are like me. No job. Mental health issues. Down on their luck. The only difference is I live in a house.

If I didn't have a home, then I would be homelss. And I would qualify for the DHA apartments.

But I do. So our home might go down in value because of this plan to move people in near my neighborhood. But they will get homes. And even though I am like them, I have worked hard, faced my inner demons and I have overcome.

Why are they rewarded and I am penalized?

Anonymous said...

The "faith - based Homeless Mafia"? Yes, its faith based, but not in the commonly thought of way. The faith is Saul Alinsky based.

Larry James said...

Permanent supportive housing does not harm property values. Homeless persons in homes are not longer homeless. Irrational fears are holding us back as a city. As one person said here, the outcry and commotion created pressure to decrease property values if in fact that happened.