We need an impartial and permanent homeless commission

At the last Homeless Commission meeting Mayor Mike Rawlings gave a troubling address. He compared the current state of homelessness in Dallas to a model of the chaos theory.
He said…
We have not been planful in the last few years…
We have not met goals…
Apartment access has started to dry up…
Affordable housing is a challenge…
We have vouchers that are unused…
We are leaving millions on the table…
We have worked separately hard…
We have been disorganized…
I agree with all of that. But what I don’t understand is why then, would some want to take the same people who have contributed to this chaos theory, and give them more influence, more money, and more authority to continue to lead us in the same chaotic direction? If what our Honorable Mayor said is true (and I believe it is) we need a new direction, new leadership. The thought of creating a permanent homeless commission with the same leaders who have left millions on the table, misplaced other millions, have not been planful, have not met goals, and have been so disorganized – is politics as usual – which is so disappointing.
We need new leadership. We need to remove any conflicts of interest, nepotism, and inside deals. At the last housing committee meeting, a member of the city attorney’s office said that the city’s conflict of interest policy would apply to any permanent commission. Any person with a financial interest must recuse themselves from any discussion or voting on funding. This means that 90% of the homeless commission would not qualify to be on a permanent commission. Based on the disorganization of the past 15 years, those that get public funding need more accountability – not more power.  They need to compete for funding, show proof of their success. They need to publicly acknowledge failure and learn from it. Any person serving on a board or staff position of any nonprofit that gets public funding should be immediately disqualified from making decisions that benefit themselves. We need an impartial citizens commission.
Just like the office of Mayor and the City Council, we need citizens to fill a permanent homeless commission. They need to rely on experts, listen to them, visit their facilities –  but not be directly connected to any organization receiving public funding. Some argue that citizens aren’t qualified, but that comes from the same organizations who have the most to financially benefit. To state that citizen aren’t qualified is a slap to every newly elected official in the city.
Dallas has a history of ugly politics, missing money, and shady deals. Too many people who work in city hall and various commissions have found themselves in a court room for similar conflicting activity. It’s time we do things ethically, with integrity, and without conflicts of interest.
But more importantly, it’s time that organizations that get public funding be held accountable to an outside commission. Many of them are doing great work, but some have a history of waste, mismanagement, and systemic failures. I personally work with the homeless every day, and the 8,500 homeless people that our organization has served experience these failures firsthand.
Our housing system is failing. Our mental healthcare is failing. Our services and shelters lack adequate capacity. The majority of the  people who experience homelessness every year are either camping under our bridges or dying on our streets. More homeless encampments exist today than have ever existed in the history of our city. Our poverty rate is skyrocketing out of control. The current leadership needs a new layer of accountability led by impartiality. We need a permanent homeless commission made up of citizens.

 

Pastor Wayne Walker
Executive Director, OurCalling

Pray for the parents of the homeless

Most people will never know the pain of seeing their own child living on the streets. It’s a tangle of emotions and helplessness that can’t be defined.
I walked under a bridge with a another father today. His daughter has lived there for over two years. As we approached we said a prayer, hoping to find her again and have the words to express true love and grace. After the “amen” we immediately found her. She shook her head and walked a away.
As we approached her, she started screaming. She immediately started cussing and threatening him. He stood there and took it. At one point she screamed “Do you have anything you want to say!” He responded with the words “I love you.” He opened his arms like the story of the father of the prodigal son, but her response was more screaming, throwing something at his face and more threats. She eventually walked away.
This father is hurting. Not only is his daughter struggling with mental illness and addiction, his wife (her mother) is dying of cancer. Today his wife is in the ICU and the prognosis is bleak. His continued attempt to reconcile with his daughter is fueled by a mother’s dying wish.
For over six months he’s been meeting with me and trying to help his daughter. She’s killing herself with K2 and meth, only complicating her mental illness. What is this father to do?
Today he weeps.
Please pray for my friend, his dying wife, and his daughter. Please remember that every person on the street represents a family in pain.

the homeless don’t need housing, they need great housing

I’ve heard it over and over – that the solution to homelessness is housing. But that’s a vague and easy answer. Every homeless person has been in housing before, but something happened. If housing was the ultimate solution, then why did they lose it? The wrong kind of housing may be worse than no housing at all.

I have personally visited people living in hundreds of housing units in Dallas. These were homeless individuals that gained housing through some program that was intended to get them back on their feet. Some of them were successful, however many of them later returned to the streets. This magical solution to homelessness has a problem that keeps being ignored.

Sometimes, these new housing units and their new residents are left to perish without any supportive services. A team works tirelessly to get someone housed, only to ignore them once they get their keys. I have met too many senior citizens in apartments without food or toilet paper, sleeping on the carpet (no furniture) and fighting to keep the insects and drug dealers out. I have met some individuals who became victims of trafficking while others were left to die, only to be discovered by apartment managers because the case manager never stopped by to check on them.

Recently in a conversation with a group that gets millions for housing in Dallas, I was told that successful case management is considered one visit per month with each client. Imagine a person who hasn’t used toilet paper in a few years, has been digging in dumpsters for four years, and shooting heroin for six years. They get dropped in an apartment without food, toilet paper, furniture, or support and they only get a 30 minute visit once a month. How is this better than sleeping on the streets when people visited them regularly? I know too many people in housing today, who only speak to their case managers every few month. They are left alone to fight to survive.

Even with the recent discussions of housing, I hear the focus on the real-estate. How much will it cost to build and maintain the property? Or how cost effective can we build these tiny houses or reclaimed shipping containers? The opportunities for property development focus on the mechanics and capital expenses, but they are ignoring the elephant in the room. More than the cost of any upscale loft or prime real estate, is a cost that needs to be factored before we start looking through property listings. We need to count the cost of dealing with the reason they are homeless:

  • chronic illness
  • life-management/skills
  • broken relationships because of trust violations
  • permanent criminal background
  • lack of familial connections
  • mental health
  • terminal illness
  • loneliness
  • addiction
  • dysfunctional behaviors and relationships
  • spiritual emptiness

These are all deep rooted issues that sometimes result in someone not having a safe place to sleep. Unless we treat the problems, we will continue to fight the symptom (homelessness). I have witnessed far too many people moved into housing, only to struggle without any support or services and left abandoned in their new apartment.

  1. Housing first, is supposed to be followed by a second. (Don’t we lose points on the assignment when our outline stops at 1?)

What Dallas needs is a new kind of housing. We need permanent supportive housing that works. We need the support services baked into the recipe. We need to figure out how we are going to pull off an AA meeting, a life skills class, one-on-one counseling and group therapy into the community. We need a place for those who want to meet with a chaplain, attend a Bible study or seek intensive discipleship to thrive. We need a place for the senior citizen to sit and play dominos, the young couple expecting a child and the single mom with five kids to live peacefully without the fear of the crime ridden neighborhoods in which they grew up.

The organizations that will eventually get the millions of dollars to build this, must have accountability and transparency. The people who get their housing must be followed up with. Their information must be shared with other organizations to insure outside audit and accountability. Anyone who keeps/quits/leaves/loses their housing must be followed up with. I meet too many people passed out behind a liquor store who have just lost their housing again. The same guy who’s picture is used on a poster as a success story, might be struggling to survive or worse. Before we cheer at the scoreboard for the number of people we have housed, we need to follow up on those who have fallen through the system. We need better accountability.

For the record, I’m really excited about CitySquare’s Cottages. I truly see this as the first example of a solution with potential. It’s a beta test, and no one knows how it will work out, but it was built with services in mind. I’m fully confident that CitySquare will do everything they can to insure the success of this new community. It can, with accountability, be great. If this model is expanded, it needs to be built much cheaper, and in many pockets like this across the city, but this could work. This has the potential to be great.

Someone recently asked me why I care about this. I’m a pastor and we don’t do housing. We created a menu to refer people to hundreds of resources, to make the connection between those who are on the streets with the right program that can help them. I care about housing because I care deeply about the people. Many are sold on ideas that eventually hurt them. They are made promises that no one intends on keeping. They are lied to, used for fundraising and paraded as show-and-tell success stories, only to be ignored and left to perish in solitude. I care about this because people’s lives are at stake. I care about the people that have been hurt, and the quick fixes that lead to more failure.

I think we should explore all options. I’m very excited about the new initiative that was announced at City Hall to collect and evaluate ideas on long term solutions. Housing, counseling, recovery, shelter, camping – they all need to be explored. Have any ideas? Post them at https://www.facebook.com/Solutions-for-Dallas-Homeless

Why can’t the homeless camp somewhere? (and other questions for today)

When you shut down a large homeless encampment and provide no alternative location for people to go, they are going to find another place to sleep. They will move to another neighborhood, another wooded area or another parking lot. Dispersing them into small and more secluded areas is not healthy and spreads out the “problem” throughout the city.

Let’s face the fact. Many of the people we serve will not go into a shelter. Many have already been in housing and have lost it. Most are struggling to survive in a corner of the city where fences were erected and they were kicked out. As we all stand in awe watching the exodus from Tent City, we were left asking questions.

Why can’t the city acknowledge that we have thousands of people sleeping outside? The Point In Time count was so much better managed and executed by MDHA than in previous years. However even with all of the improvements, the process is broken. Other cities count in daylight, over multiple days and with safety and accuracy the main goals. Dallas’s count was in the middle of the night, over a few hours and was described by volunteers as “dangerous” and haphazard. Who wants to crawl in the woods behind a liquor store at midnight with a stranger? That doesn’t sound like a safe or strategic plan. Houston for example, counted over a three day period, 12 hours per day, only in daylight hours. Dallas counted from 10PM to 1AM on the coldest day in January. In that three hour timespan they only counted 586 homeless individuals. I don’t think you could visit every Starbucks in Dallas county in under three hours.

Why do we continue to play this silly cat and mouse game to hunt and close homeless encampments? I fully understand the chaos, crime and criminal element that existed at Tent City. I have personally heard countless stories of victims of domestic violence, sexual assaults, knife wounds, sex trafficking and drug trafficking. However these same crimes exist in many different neighborhoods throughout Dallas. (Have you seen the citywide murder and crime rates?) Bulldozing crime-ridden neighborhoods is not a sustainable solution. Finding and prosecuting criminals needs to be the priority. If a police officer can stop me and search my car with probable cause, why can’t they search tents for drugs and stop the dealers and perpetrators from inflicting such pain on the helpless.

Why does the city only support the Bridge? The Bridge is doing great work and I personally have great relationships with their staff. However I don’t understand why the city gives 4 million dollars a year to the Bridge, and doesn’t do anything to help the other shelters. The Bridge is great, but it is also the smallest and youngest shelter in Dallas (happy 8th birthday). They don’t serve more meals, have more beds or help more people than the other shelters. I was invited to a meeting with the City Manager, some City Council members and many other professionals in Dallas to discuss Tent City. I was shocked to see that the only shelter that was invited was the Bridge. The other shelters were not included in the discussion. Even the media has a bias towards the Bridge. All of the shelters are doing great work. All of them have clinics, all of them work with the VA and serve vets, all of them help with long-term sustainable solutions to ending homelessness. All of them need to be heard and recognized for the great work they are doing.

Why can’t we work together? I’m not a smart guy, but I do know that if you want the best ideas you bring the brightest people to the same room. In the history of Dallas there has never been a single brainstorming meeting with the directors of the nonprofits who work with the homeless. Some will come, some will meet. Some meetings have happened, but never any that invite all of the shelters or all of the nonprofits that work with the homeless community. Politics, ugly history and bad attitudes have thwarted collaborative efforts. We should all be ashamed for how we have each contributed to building our own islands rather than working together as a community.

Why can’t the homeless camp somewhere? We (@OurCalling) have records on thousands of homeless individuals in Dallas. We also get alerts through our app where concerned citizens report new homeless encampments to us. I have personally visited under hundreds of bridges, behind many liquor stores, in alleys, all over the city. Most people camping outside are technically trespassing because we don’t have a legal option. Many keep their camps clean, aren’t disturbing the public and might be good neighbors. Many can’t get a job due to mental health issues, disability, criminal background or lack of life skills to maintain employment. What does it hurt the city for them to camp peacefully? Yes, there are some that aren’t peaceful and we should police those areas. But the majority are peaceful. The majority want a place to lay their heads and sleep with dignity.

Why are we focusing on housing, and not the reason people lose it? The support services needed by the homeless or recently housed will cost far more than the real estate. “Housing first” has become “housing only” and many of our most vulnerable citizens have been relocated to the most crime infested apartments, only to be abandoned with little to no care. Some of the groups that push people into housing stop caring for the individual once they get a set of keys. No support, no food, no toilet paper, no rehabilitation, no counseling, no care. If someone is in a situation where they need housing, it’s a symptom of much bigger problems in their lives. I know too many people who have gotten housing and have died, become victims of sex trafficking, become victims of human trafficking or have relapsed into deeper chaos – only after being relocated far away from support. The wrong kind of housing, does not help.

I’m frustrated. It’s so depressing to watch someone’s possessions being piled up by a bulldozer and thrown into a garbage truck. It’s difficult to talk to a father asking about his mentally ill child, wondering if she is alive and if she will ever get off of the streets. It’s challenging to explain to someone with severe mental illness why they had to move. It’s infuriating to listen to organizations bicker about the past, and fail to consider that if we don’t come together we will repeat our mistakes into the future. This is not an easy task for any of us. It’s time for us to unite.

Where will they go? (after Tent City)

The topic around Tent City is “hey, where are you moving?” Most of the people there have been homeless for much longer than the exitence of this single encampment. Many of them have been camping outside for years. The growth and popularity of TentCity led many to move there, but they aren’t newly homeless. (see: How did Tent City get so big, so fast? )

There are 200+ tents there. Most have double occupancy, so do the math. There are lots of people who will need a place to go as the closure process proceeds. For anyone serving there, or even if you know anyone who lives down there, you need to focus your conversation on the move.  Our hope is that this move will lead some to seek shelter or treatment, as options are still available. Many are shelter resistant, or afraid of housing (for good reasons) however this is your opportunity to introduce your friends to better options than camping.
  • Some will go to a shelter: Shelters require a valid State ID. For those without one, CitySquare has been offering ID services in coordination with MDHA. They are paying the fees, getting the paperwork and they even have a connection with the court system to help remove warrants to expedite the process.
    • The Union Gospel Mission is our largest shelter. (725 beds) I recently spoke to the Executive Director, Bill Thompson, and they currently have plans to expand their men’s facility. Currently they have space available in their single women’s program.
    • The Salvation Army (600 beds) has three different programs. They have a court ordered program (for those recently encarcerated), the addiction recovery program (Adult Rehabilitation), and emergency night shelter. I’ve heard about a plan to add space including using their gymnasium for expansion.
    • Austin Street Center should win an award for being proactive. While other shelters are now trying to build expansion plans, ASC has added 90 spaces in the past year in response to the growth of Tent City. Even with 420 beds though, they are full almost every night.
    • Dallas Life has about 100 beds available. Last week I met with Reverend Sweeney and he explained that these are mostly program beds. Although they also have room in their pay-to-stay program ($10 per night), they would prefer to have people consider their free($0) program that includes the 10 month “Homeless No More” program.  Dallas Life does have the tightest restriction on criminal background but that’s because men/women/children are in the same facility (No heinous crimes: violent assaults, sex crimes, stalking or arson).
    • The Bridge has 350 mats and presented a plan to the City Council for expansion. Neighbors from CBD, The Cedars and Farmers Market showed up at the City Council briefing in protest so I don’t think this will happen anytime soon.
  • Some will seek Discipleship: Aside from the programs at Union Gospel and Dallas Life, there are a number of other ministries that provide live-in Christian discipleshp programs. These are smaller facilities, which might be a better option for some.
  • Some will seek housing: Some will get an apartment through traditional rental or an assisted (voucher) program. Many people claim that housing is the solution, but I believe bad housing is often worse than sleeping outside. Most people living in Tent City need massive amounts of support services. Housing without these services can be dangerous if not fatal. I have known too many people that have been deserted in housing-first initiatives only to relapse, become victims of human trafficking, die or be abandonded by their case managers once housed. In my opinion, housing-first without any support services is a nightmare. I’ve performed too many funerals or found too many people abused to be a fan of these programs. I think it’s sad how the conversation of housing focuses on the facilities and doesn’t include the need for support services. Millions of dollars are being discussed for housing, while ignoring the reason why people need the housing (Ok, I’ll get off of my soap box).
    • Rental – I know some people who earn a paycheck or get a monthly assistance check, who need help to find a good place to live. Use this time to quickly help them locate that perfect apartment. I’ve recommended apartment locator services for years, but sometimes that doesn’t help with low-income places. Can you help a friend call around to find a vacancy? We have found that the best method is knocking on doors. Many low-income apartment offices don’t return phone calls.
    • Vouchers – A voucher works like a coupon for housing. These are usually paid for by some government assistance program. Dallas Housing Authority, Metrocare, CitySquare and MDHA have been working tirelessly to house people in TentCity through vouchers. At the City Council briefing it was announced that 20 people had been housed (in 10 months). A few new grants have come available that may open more spots, but housing inventory is extremely low. My biggest concern is the lack of support services for these individuals.
  • Most will camp elsewhere throughout the city. Where will they go? Probably one of these locations where the OurCalling Search & Rescue teams already visit:
DallasTentsSmall
Hundreds of encampment locations where the OurCalling Search & Rescue teams visit
If this whole post sounds depressing as if there aren’t many options for the homeless, welcome to reality in Dallas. OurCalling is a Christian discipleship ministry for the homeless, building personal relationships within the community in order to invest in long-term change. We have records on almost 7,000 homeless individuals, with a majority sleeping outside every single day.
If you have been serving in Tent City and are wondering how/where to serve once the fences go up, stay tuned…

Tent City closure – here are the plan details

Last week at the City Council briefing the Mayor and Council members appeared to be miffed that there wasn’t yet a formal plan to close Tent City. They had every right to be, as we continued to inch towards the proposed closure date. Five days later, MDHA presented a plan at the Homeless Encampment Update hosted by the City Manager.

First, I feel privileged to be invited to these meetings. I’m surrounded by many different city employees, a handful of council members, the chief of police and many others. For the first time, the other shelter directors had been invited to represent alternatives to this forced migration.

I’m against having a Tent City. It’s very presence is a sign that something is terribly wrong. But dismembering it without addressing the causes will have unintended consequences. Most of those in tents will not go into shelter. They will pack up their belongings and move elsewhere. They were sleeping in a different spot before this, and will return to familiar places. Some will seek shelter but most will not. We’ve given out invitations for those few empty shelter beds for years. The shelters are near capacity, it’s not as if the halls are empty. However there are still vacancies.

The closure plan, as given by MDHA is simple, and will be used in the future as the process to close down other encampments. They started this process this week, the ball is rolling.

  • Signs – “No Trespassing” signs have been placed under the bridges in Tent City. This is TXDOT property, so it took lots of political meandering for the city to get the right to place the signs and enforce them. This was negotiated back in August.
  • Warnings – Soon after the signs are placed, a Criminal Trespassing (CT) warning will be issued to anyone who remains in the area. These little yellow cards include the name, address and other pertinent information about the violation.
  • Fences – The city is contracting for the fences to be repaired. This week the process began with landscaping crews clearing any brush from the areas to prepare for the new fence construction.
  • Tickets – If a person who has already been given a CT warning is seen by a Police officer at the same address, they can issue a Criminal Trespassing Citation. It must be the same address.
  • Jail – If you get a Criminal Trespassing Citation, you go to Lew Sterrett Jail. Your stay will probably be 48 hours or less, until you are bonded out and will eventually lead to a court date. These citations are misdemeanors and are not enhanceable. This means that even if you get a stack of them, the jail time will never get any longer for each citation.

 

TentCityPlanDiagram
This is my Bansky version of the plan.

They will be closing each city “block” of Tent City in a particular order. They will start with the outer blocks (A & E) and will move week by week closing each until it is completely fenced off. The goal is not to arrest anyone while they force them to leave.

TentCityMap

This is our reality. Although I care deeply for the people there, the concentration has led to safety issues, health issues, major drug/sex trafficking, violence and countless crimes against persons. I guess the prevailing theory is: if they camp in smaller groups the problems won’t be so bad? I hope so.

Stay tuned until next week when I answer the question, “Where will they go?”

Dallas – Don’t be Divisive. It’s time to work together.

We are in an unparalleled time in our history, where the challenges before us require a commitment to steadfast determination and resolve. And in this moment when we need each other the most, some respond with divisive bickering, complaining and finger pointing.
We have a tent city and it is huge. We have never before seen this concentration of a homeless population. The amount of trash in the area is underscored by the sounds of the wounded, as assaults on personal liberty and safety ring the loudest bell. We as a city are concerned, scared and overly critical. It’s time that we stop whining and condemning each other, and stand together in a united front to fight for the rights and safety of our most vulnerable population. All of the citizens in Dallas are important. Those that try to live and work downtown, and those that sleep on our streets are all important. They are our neighbors. We are a family, and now more than ever we need each other.
One board member of a shelter says “we’re the only one’s doing it right.”
One neighbor says “the police are doing nothing.”
One church member says “we’re the only one’s doing anything.”
One group says “those downtown people are so cruel and hateful.”
One mayor says “shame on all of us.”
It’s time for us to stop fighting amongst ourselves and acknowledge that we can’t solve these problems without each other. It’s sad that we live in a city where people would rather point and complain about each other than sit down together and listen.
We’ve never been in this situation. I’m sure we’ll make some mistakes, but we will tackle these problems together.
  • DPD is doing a great job. This is a new reality for them and they are handling it with utmost professionalism and grace. #backtheblue
  • The Shelters are all working on expansion ideas. They are each shouldering the burden, as they have been for years.
  • The City’s Leaders are concerned. They are bringing together the brightest minds to collectively create sustainable solutions to these complex problems.
  • The Neighbors are organizing. Around issues like these, residents are sharing ideas and collectively supporting the city and the nonprofits doing the work.
Now more than ever, we need each other. Stop complaining and start cooperating. Pray for wisdom and provision as these challenges will require an ample supply of both.

Tent City

I’ve been in a few meetings with the city recently including a city council briefing Wednesday and planning meetings with the city manager (and others). I’ve also spoken to most of the major shelter directors, the police department, Crisis Intervention and MDHA. We have many more meetings to come, so please pray for wisdom and more inclusion. I’ve noted that the largest shelters in the city have been left out of these planning meetings as the city only includes the Bridge. (which I think is offensive and short-sighted).

For those that serve in Tent City and who deeply care for the people there, I thought you should be informed.

There is no definitive plan: 
The city is still pushing for a May closure, but there currently is no hard plan on how or when. There is discussions on details, but when the city council pushed the city manager and MDHA on details, there was a resounding “no” given to questions about final plans. I have heard 3 different dates given, all are within the first week of May. There has been some discussion about moving people to a new locations (which I visited all 3 suggested spots) and and I don’t see those as viable options.

The Bridge has proposed a plan asking the city for more money. This plan is supposed to increase shelter capacity at all 5 of the major shelters. However details are sketchy at best. From what I understand the lion’s share of the money would go to the Bridge, only giving a small portion to the other shelters.  I have spoken to multiple shelter directors who hadn’t seen any details of the plan – even on the day it was presented at City Hall. This is disturbing. Note: This new plan wouldn’t help pay for the 90 beds that Austin Street has already added in response to Tent City.  The Austin Street Center has taken on such a proactive role by adding new space and increasing their day programs for women.

The neighbors are unhappy and concerned – for good reason. A few weeks ago I attended the CBD crime watch meeting and heard from many neighbors around Tent City. I have also met with a few community leaders from CBD, Cedars and Farmers Market. These are good people. They are being vilified against the homeless, which is foolish. Many really care about the homeless, but are disgusted with the way things are being handled. Groups that litter their streets, block traffic, throw out bags of clothes which cover the sidewalks – are a problem for all of us. When we serve under a bridge people are civil(usually). But when they are walking through downtown and to their offices and are harassed by aggressive panhandlers, accosted by an intoxicated individual threatening assault, or have to step over human waste or styrofoam containers from another church group who serves irresponsibly, they have every right to be upset. Please pray for more civility and open communication between these groups.

Feeding and Resource distributions are unfortunately increasing. More groups are coming down, littering the streets, blocking traffic, trespassing on private property, and distributing unnecessary resources without accountability which continues to fuel the drug/sex trafficking. Please I beg you, bring less and pick up more trash. Please partner with established ministries to distribute through accountable means. The more resources distributed on the streets, the less likely our homeless friends will seek the help they truly need.

Warning about scams. Recently more reports are coming of groups trying to raise money for programs without accountability or long-term strategy. Some of these are outright criminal or taking advantage of the situation. Unlicensed boarding homes are continuing to try to take money to house our friends in deplorable conditions. If your organization is trying to raise money for any legitimate program, please discuss this with other established nonprofits so we understand your program and differentiate you from the crooks.

New camps popping up. Because of the continued violence in tent city and the threat of closure, individuals have been moving tents and opening up new encampments all over the city. We’ve identified a number of new locations within a mile of the current Tent City location. If you see any new locations, please use our app and report those directly to us. We have received over 200 new reports since January. We’ve always had small encampments throughout Dallas, however these highly populated ones tend to get violent quickly and are a hotspot for drug dealers and sex trafficking.

New videos. I’ve been working on a project to create a few short videos to answer some of the common questions about tent city and the entire homeless situation in Dallas. Please take a look at the first two and let me know what you think. If you like them share them with your friends. If you have any comments, questions, or can suggest additional topics please let me know.

How did tent city grow so big so fast? https://youtu.be/8PqPKRI4LGw

How many homeless people are in Dallas? https://youtu.be/_myZd0U1Pe4

Concluding Thoughts:

  • Please continue to use our directory and app ( www.ourcalling.org/app ) to refer our friends to the support they need.
  • Please serve responsibly – pick up trash and don’t enable people with resources that keep them from seeking the services they need. There are so many places our friends can already get food, clothes, etc. each day. Consider having your group partner and serve at one of those already established places.
  • Pray for wisdom and provision as we continue to tackle these difficult days ahead.

Please pray for the homeless.
-Wayne

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