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.
[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.]