Matt Petersonreports the inevitable in a story posted to theDallas Morning News"Scoop Blog" on Wednesday morning.A day after the inspirational report regarding 500 homeless persons spending the night at the new Omni Hotel and receiving first class treatment, one of our not-so-fortunate neighbors froze to death in an ally behind an East Dallas Church building located in my neighborhood.
Here's Peterson's report:
A homeless man was found “frozen behind a church” in Old East Dallas this morning, according to a police report.
The man, who was in his 60s, apparently died overnight and was found about 8 a.m. outside Emanuel Lutheran Church in the 4300 block of San Jacinto Street.
“We’re very, very saddened by the situation,” said Julio Cruz-Natal, the church’s pastor. He said the man may have been there to get a meal from the church’s food pantry, but he was not familiar to anyone there.
Authorities have yet to identify the victim, and his cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner’s office. There were no obvious signs of trauma.
But with overnight temperatures dropping into the 20s and wind chills in the single digits, it was a dangerous night to spend in the elements.
Cruz-Natal said the brutal cold overnight may have left the man with few alternatives.
“Most of the shelters were at capacity, and I wonder if that’s what happened last night,” he said.
Some may ask, "How does such a thing happen in Dallas, Texas?"
I say, "Why the surprise?"
Our community response to the issues associated with chronic homelessness, especially among the disabled and the young, remains inadequate at best.
The emergency shelters were likely very crowded last night. But shelters do not provide any real answer to the problem.Housing is the best and only answer. Permanent housing with robust, high-touch, high-care support services. As a community we need to partner with the shelter providers to empty their beds as we place these very special neighbors into real housing.
The time has come for "over-investment" to compensate for the head start this challenge has on us. I hope, if you live in Dallas, you'll call, email and write your city council member and Mayor Mike Rawlings. Let them know that you are ready to join the fight and that it is time to take the entire effort to the next level. I intend to volunteer to my council representative, Pauline Medrano, that I'm ready to pay into a special fund to address this life and death issue. Call it a levy of compassion, call it a tax, call it what you will. The time has come to act and to act differently and much more aggressively.
God have mercy on us.
This just in from The Dallas Morning News on my doorstep: Authorities found the body of another Dallas neighbor, a woman who has been identfied, near the Dallas Convention Center. It appears that this person also froze to death a short distance from the luxurious Omni Hotel.
39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would bea fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
Mary’s Song of Praise 46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
56 And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
Today, I sat on the corner in the howling wind. The wind chill had to be in the 30s.
We drank coffee, ate cookies and talked about life.
I heard some unforgettable things.
"Man, I've picked up 'bout 4 pounds of cans in less than an hour. I've got to get back to mama. Can I take her some of this coffee and some cookies? She is crippled and has a hard time gettin' 'round." "The wind's blowin' and it's so cold." "Pray for my brother, George. He has two more years to do in the TDC" (Texas Department of Corrections). "Pray for him that he'll be able to handle his trials and temptations and come out okay."
"Where's the trash?" more than one homeless person asked as they tried to find a place to dispose of cups, cream containers, etc.
"People in those big buildings are under the pressure of billions of dollars. We're under the pressure, no less difficult, of zero billions!" a wise man said with a laugh.
"How cold is it gonna get tonight?
Several times as folks walked away with hot coffee in hand, "Have a Merry Christmas!"
An old woman with a European accent, "May I have that box? Do you have coffee for me?" "I can make it fine so long as its only in the 30s or 40s, after that I have to go to a shelter." "Things happened that put people out here; we weren't born out here. But once you're out here for a while, things change inside you and things change back there and it's hard to get back; and if you get back, so much has changed that you feel lost and you can't make it."
A very young man carrying a large, black trash bag asked me, "Do you know where a person could buy a tent?"
I'm not sure why, but I left the corner filled with sadness today. Such good people, enjoyable souls, people I love to "hang with," out in the cold trying, as one man said, "to just make it from day to day."
As I left, I waved back to my friend, "Blue." He returned my wave. I hope to see him next week.
And teachers at school doing their jobs to guide, educate, shape and encourage our precious national treasure.
The time has come, and it's long overdue, for serious action to control the distribution of weapons in our nation.
There should be no argument whatsoever about outlawing automatic assault weapons completely.
Over 40% of the weapons sold in the U. S. today are distributed from Internet websites that require no registration or qualification process.
Have we completely lost our minds?
Is this what the framers of our constitution meant by the Second Amendment?
No, it is not!
Things have degenerated to the point that a plausible suggestion would be to legalize drugs and outlaw weapons. Such dual action would likely drive the level of violence down so far in this nation that we actually might find a better way to live and a safer place to raise our children.
There is no sensible argument remaining today for the purchase, marketing, manufacture or ownership of automatic assault weapons.
Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week show that Dallas County children, on whole, are poorer than not only most other Texas children, but most other children in America’s largest cities.
Close to 30 percent of children in Dallas County between the ages of five and 17 live in poverty, the numbers show, nearly a five percent increase since 2007. The below chart shows the poverty rates for those aged children, in Dallas-area counties:
Source: U.S. Census data
Jump for even more disturbing news, and a few bright spots.
Okay, first with the bright spots. Dallas isn’t the worst county in Texas for child poverty, and it’s not even close. The five counties with the highest child poverty rates in 2011 (I removed Loving County from the list, because it’s the least populous county in the U.S., with only 82 residents.):
Those six counties either hug the border or sit one county away from the border. Bleak stuff. Before I get to the bleakest data – the ones that show how poorly Dallas stacks up against the rest of America’s biggest cities — here are the overall poverty rates for the Dallas area. Most counties have oscillated slightly in recent years; Dallas has shot right for the bottom of the bucket.
Source: U.S. Census data
Now onto the part of the show where we compare Dallas to its similar cities, the fine folks in the other most-populous cities. Seems kids are doing a whole lot better in them than in Dallas, for the most part. These are based on county numbers for 2011:
New York (Bronx County: 41 percent; New York County: 28.8 percent; Queens County: 22.2 percent; Kings County: 33.3 percent; Richmond County: 16 percent)
Philadelphia (Philadelphia County): 38.6 percent Dallas (Dallas County): 28.3 percent
Houston (Harris County): 27.5 percent
Chicago (Cook County): 26 percent
Los Angeles (Los Angeles County): 25.1 percent
San Antonio (Bexar County): 24.2 percent
Phoenix (Maricopa County): 23.4 percent
San Diego (San Diego County): 18.4 percent
San Jose (Santa Clara County): 12.1 percent
C’mon people, we can’t be worse than Houston. You can explore every county in America, back to 1989, here.
People often question, sometimes lecture, and express concern that the work we do at CitySquare is "not really about faith." I suppose people think that because we make none of our services, activities or initiatives dependent upon our neighbors being involved in overtly religious activities. Like all of our various activities, everything here is based on the complete freedom of our neighbors to choose what they desire to take advantage of.
What people with these concerns don't understand is that faith lives on the streets and in the poorest ghettos in the inner city. . .and I do mean "lives."
A few weeks ago, a very frail and troubled woman handed me a piece of paper that I've been carrying in my pocket ever since she passed it my way. We'll call her "Molly" here.
Molly deals with severe bi-polar disorder, and possibly schizophrenia. She doesn't talk about faith much, but she knows I'm a minister. Possibly she wrote the note because of her faith, or possibly because of mine, with the note being a gift she thought I would appreciate. Either way, I consider the act very spiritual.
Here's what Molly wrote:
Lord Jesus, bless my friend the spirit of joy and happiness to all who are in your care and help the will of God's SON who save all our lives forever for only Love not hate
As I've said so often, the witness comes back more powerfully than it can be offered from here.
As I post the following commentary from Nicholas Kristof, I catch myself bracing for the reaction from some of my regulars here! I think some of you follow me to refill your frustration tank! But what Kristof writes raises tough and important issues that as a society we must address. Hopefully, we can find a way to do so with respect, substance and integrity. The debates over the role of public institutions in addressing real-life, contemporary issues affecting communities, neighborhoods, corporations and individuals must be taken seriously.
This is certainly, possibly doubly, true in the neighbors where we live and work. From education to health care, from infrastructure to public safety, from housing to living wage employment we face big issues that call for new, bold and comprehensive solutions and responses.
At the end of the day we just need to face the fact that "standby generators" just won't get us what we all need.
In upper-middle-class suburbs on the East Coast, the newest must-have isn’t a $7,500 Sub-Zero refrigerator. It’s a standby generator that automatically flips on backup power to an entire house when the electrical grid goes out.
In part, that’s a legacy of Hurricane Sandy. Such a system can cost well over $10,000, but many families are fed up with losing power again and again.
(A month ago, I would have written more snarkily about residential generators. But then we lost power for 12 days after Sandy — and that was our third extended power outage in four years. Now I’m feeling less snarky than jealous!)
More broadly, the lust for generators is a reflection of our antiquated electrical grid and failure to address climate change. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave our grid, prone to bottlenecks and blackouts, a grade of D+ in 2009.
So Generac, a Wisconsin company that dominates the generator market, says it is running three shifts to meet surging demand. About 3 percent of stand-alone homes worth more than $100,000 in the country now have standby generators installed.
“Demand for generators has been overwhelming, and we are increasing our production levels,” Art Aiello, a spokesman for Generac, told me.
That’s how things often work in America. Half-a-century of tax cuts focused on the wealthiest Americans leave us with third-rate public services, leading the wealthy to develop inefficient private workarounds.
It’s manifestly silly (and highly polluting) for every fine home to have a generator. It would make more sense to invest those resources in the electrical grid so that it wouldn’t fail in the first place.
But our political system is dysfunctional: in addressing income inequality, in confronting climate change and in maintaining national infrastructure.
The National Climatic Data Center has just reported that October was the 332nd month in a row of above-average global temperatures. As the environmental Web siteGrist reported, that means that nobody younger than 27 has lived for a single month with colder-than-average global temperatures, yet climate change wasn’t even much of an issue in the 2012 campaign. Likewise, the World Economic Forum ranks American infrastructure 25th in the world, down from 8th in 2003-4, yet infrastructure is barely mentioned by politicians.
So time and again, we see the decline of public services accompanied by the rise of private workarounds for the wealthy.
Is crime a problem? Well, rather than pay for better policing, move to a gated community with private security guards!
Are public schools failing? Well, superb private schools have spaces for a mere $40,000 per child per year.
Public libraries closing branches and cutting hours? Well, buy your own books and magazines!
Are public parks — even our awesome national parks, dubbed “America’s best idea” and the quintessential “public good” — suffering from budget cuts? Don’t whine. Just buy a weekend home in the country!
Public playgrounds and tennis courts decrepit? Never mind — just join a private tennis club!
I’m used to seeing this mind-set in developing countries like Chad or Pakistan, where the feudal rich make do behind high walls topped with shards of glass; increasingly, I see it in our country. The disregard for public goods was epitomized by Mitt Romney’s call to end financing of public broadcasting.
A wealthy friend of mine notes that we all pay for poverty in the end. The upfront way is to finance early childhood education for at-risk kids. The back-end way is to pay for prisons and private security guards. In cities with high economic inequality, such as New York and Los Angeles, more than 1 percent of all employees work as private security guards, according to census data.
This question of public goods hovers in the backdrop as we confront the “fiscal cliff” and seek to reach a deal based on a mix of higher revenues and reduced benefits. It’s true that we have a problem with rising entitlement spending, especially in health care. But I also wonder if we’ve reached the end of a failed half-century experiment in ever-lower tax rates for the wealthy.
All this has coincided with the decline of some public services and the emergence of staggering levels of inequality (granted, other factors are also at work) such that the top 1 percent of Americans now have greater collective net worth than the entire bottom 90 percent.
Not even the hum of the most powerful private generator can disguise the failure of that long experiment.
What follows is a direct, cut and paste email message that I received recently fromFrances Martinez, Operations Manager for CitySquare's Community Health Services.
Our clinic, located in South Dallas-Fair Park just off the intersection of Malcolm X and Grand Avenue, scored big in the latestHealth Texas Provider Network(the Baylor Health Care System's physicians group) audit of our Adult Preventative Services.
The translation is very simple, and most encouraging: our clinic ranked second among all the HTPN clinics in the system! This includes the clinic that I call my medical home out in the North Dallas suburbs!
Great work, CitySquare health care team! Great work!
Our patients receive the best care possible, and evidently the best care available!
see below, we are #2 in HTPN for the July-September Adult
Preventative Services (APS) audit!! Congratulations everyone! It is
definitely a team effort from scheduling WWEs, to requesting the tests, to
putting in the orders, to scheduling the tests. Please take a moment and
give each other a high five!
CitySquarewas one of the original partners in the formation of Project Access Dallas. We wrote the initial grant to fund the concept. We provided a team of "health navigators" to serve the special needs of our patients. After more than a decade leaders at the Dallas County Medical Society have decided to shut the project down.
Ironically, the change may result in even more services for the very poor in Dallas. I hope so. We will be working with our medical and hospital partners to continue to serve the poor and marginalized, hopefully on an even greater scale. That's what we're looking to the hospitals to accomplish in our community, and especially on behalf of the poor and uninsured.
Here's the story by Dallas Morning News reporter Sherry Jacobson that appeared in Wednesday morning's edition:
The Dallas County Medical Society will pull the plug early next year on its Project Access Dallas, a popular program that matches uninsured county residents with doctors willing to provide them low-cost medical care.
The 10-year-old effort, which employed 30 people, will end as early as March, after more than 3,000 current patients have found a “new medical home,” said Dr. Rick Snyder, president of the medical society.
More than 2,200 local doctors, many of them specialists, had voluntarily provided low-cost care to uninsured patients, including surgery, chemotherapy and chronic-disease management.
For those who now have a license to visit the
Dallas Museum of Art for free — well, at least you will when the “free” policy
begins Jan. 21 — here’s a snapshot of what we recommend about the DMA, which
will also free membership via its new Friends and Partners program:
1) Every Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m., you can take in the DMA’s “Thursday Night Live”program. Tomorrow night, you can listen listen
to the Carolyn Lee Jones Sextet as part of the DMA’s Thursday night jazz
2) Through March 13, you can see the work of Glasgow-based artist Karla Black, who recently created two sculptures for the
DMA, her first such project in the United States. As the DMA says in its own
description, “Transforming light, fragile, often impermanent materials into
powerful sculptures of commanding scale and presence, Black creates abstract
works that resolutely eschew metaphor while simultaneously beckoning a complex
series of associations.”
art. The DMA offers
Texas Artist Databases, a list of titles and dates for exhibitions
presented by the DMA since 1909, and the Otis Dozier Sketchbooks, a digital
collection that includes “nearly 1,500 sketches. When complete, it will make available over 6,200 images that
comprise a complete representation of 130 sketchbooks by Texas regionalist
artist Otis Dozier (1905-1987).”
4) The DMA’s current hot show, “Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec and
His Contemporaries,”wraps up the day
before free admission and free memberships begin. Even so,
it’s a can’t-miss. Beginning with the early designs of “Jules Chéret – the
‘father of the poster’ — the exhibition explores the earliest days of the affiche
artistique [artistic poster] and its flowering in Paris, first
under Chéret in the 1870s and 1880s, and then with a new generation of
artists including Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec,Pierre Bonnard, and Edouard Vuillard, artists who
brought the poster to new heights in the 1890s.” The DMA says the exhibition
“examines the story of the French artistic poster in all its complexity.”
5)The DMA is a community resource, which is why director Maxwell Anderson’s push
to go “free” is so brilliant, because it puts the museum within reach of the
entire community. On a regular basis, it hosts Arts & Letters Live (which
brings name authors to town), lectures, gallery talks, concerts, film, teen
workshops and other family events. The DMA is home to 22,000 works of art,
spanning 5,000 years, though not all are on view at any one time. Artists whose
work is currently on view include Jackson Pollock and Claude Monet. Plus, the
DMA is home to a highly acclaimed African art collection.
Larry's new book, now available from Amazon.com! Also, now in Kindle format! To place your order visit Amazon.com today! Also, available at Barnes and Noble bookstores and on the web. Click on the image above to order!
Larry James' Urban Daily
A repository of ideas, resources, commentary and opinions concerning the issues facing low-income residents of the inner cities of the United States and how mainstream America largely forgets or, worse, ignores the day-to-day realities of urban life for the so-called "poor." Written and edited by the President & CEO of CitySquare. Please visit CitySquare.
Today and throughout 2013, we need your support to continue our life-changing work in inner-city Dallas. Every day hundreds of our wonderful neighbors arrive at our doors seeking our assistance, offering their help and prepared to pursue a better life. Frankly, the folks we "serve" make essential contributions to the scope, nature and soul of the work we attempt. At CitySquare we honor and recognize the amazing value and richness of our low-income neighbors. During 2012, almost 55,000 different people received the benefit of our wide-ranging services designed to assist in the process of building better lives. We need your help TODAY as we continue to respond to the needs of our community. Even more, we need you to become our PARTNER in the work of compassion and community renewal--work that continues day after day at CitySquare.