The following Op-Ed piece appeared just after Christmas in The Dallas Morning News:
Larry James: Cold rain’s clear message about our homeless
On Christmas Eve, more than 500 homeless men, women and children spent the
night downtown in the Omni Dallas Hotel. The annual event, sponsored by David
Timothy and the SoupMobile, extends joy and a sense of community to everyone
involved, both hosts and guests.
The next morning brought rain — hard, cold rain. Like the story of
Cinderella, the magical dream-come-true evening gave way to reality, with no
glass slipper left behind. With gratitude for the night’s lodging still intact,
these fellow citizens of ours rode buses back to their meager living conditions.
Some returned to the Bridge, our community’s homeless assistance center. Others
sought warmth and safety in one of the homeless shelters meant to be emergency —
not permanent — solutions for homelessness.
Over the past five years, Dallas has made great progress in addressing the
problem of chronic homelessness, and the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance reports
that the data is moving in the right direction. But there is much work to
On Christmas morning, as I listened to the rain falling on my rooftop, as I
considered the amazing gift of a dry, warm home, as I pondered how to keep the
dog dry, I heard a challenge, a call, a charge: House your homeless brothers and
It was almost as if the rain pounded out the lyric “No room in the inn!”
House them. That is, provide each homeless person a place to live, a home to
call his or her own.
I didn’t hear in the rain a plan for night-by-night, emergency short-term
solutions. The rain was beating out a different, seemingly impossible song: Find
a way, in the ultimate can-do city, to place every last man, woman and child
into permanent housing, and do it before next Christmas!
That depends on us.
What if we began by working with the leaders of the various emergency night
shelters to provide housing for every one of their customers before Christmas
2013? What would that take? Simply put, the community will and political
insistence to support such an endeavor. We need a determined, patient policy and
the funding commitment to get it done.
If we target the first 2,000 homeless people, we could place all in housing
for the year and surround each person with high-touch care with a budget of less
than $25 million. Once housed, these friends of ours could receive orderly case
management. One short-term outcome would be the discovery that a number of the
chronically disabled homeless currently receive some public benefit, a part of
which could go back into underwriting rent and services. The scale of our effort
would drive costs down.
Read entire article here.