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We promised to follow up on the story entitled, “New Proposed Solutions to Combat Homelessness” featured in Elite News One. The plan was to speak with Nadia Chandler-Hardy, the fairly new, Chief of Community Relations, however, somehow, our scheduled meeting time was overlooked, therefore we will have to get a word from Dallas City Hall at a later date. We would love to share information with the community about how they may play their part in helping the homeless population, but it is difficult to do so without being able to view or discuss a concisely crafted plan. Therefore we reached out to Diane Ragsdale, Managing Director of InnerCity Community Development and former City of Dallas, Homeless Coordinator, Bro. Thomas Mohammed.

Back in the early 1990s, Bro. Thomas Mohammed, as the Homeless Coordinator for the City of Dallas, took a trip to 9 U.S. cities to study their homeless assistance programs. When he came back, he presented the idea of the City having a Day Resource Center. In the different cities he visited, the centers, which were operated and managed by local government were were open 24-hours a day. Transients were able to bath, wash their laundry, eat, sleep and receive access to social services capable of connecting them with jobs, temporary-permanent housing and medical/psychological services. The same program was implemented here in Dallas, and according to Bro. Mohammed, it was highly effective while it lasted.

Tomorrow, Bro. Mohammed will be holding a press conference/tour under the I-45 Bridge at 190 South Boulevard, to bring attention to the fact that recent Tent City residents, are now making alleyways near the Bridge, their home.  Along with the traveling homeless population, there is a trail of trash and a strong stench that comes from not being able to appropriately bathe one’s self. Below is his 4 Step Plan of Action:

  1. Make closing of the remaining Homeless Tent City encampments, the local government’s Top Priority.
  2. A rent assistance fund should be created, providing six months’ rent support for each individual living outdoors.
  3. Withhold ALL public funds from CitySquare and The Bridge until the homeless population, especially those from Tent City get assistance!
  4. If the Bridge cannot do any better than what they have in the past, the city should reconsider bringing back the Day Resource Center 24 hour Free Shelter.

Former Mayor Pro Tem and Councilwoman Diane Ragsdale also agrees that the City ought to be in charge of a 24-hour Day Center where no one is denied temporary housing, but she was more focused on permanent housing after the temporary shelter is provided. She tells us to keep in mind because this is a growing problem, we will never be able to build enough single family detached houses to keep up with this problem. Ms. Ragsdale is suggesting subsidized multi-family housing for people who are making $0-300/month. The problem is however, when new developments go up,  in the South Dallas/Fair Park area, we can expect the monthly rent to be close to $700/mo, which does not qualify as affordable housing to someone making far less than this amount per month.

If you go to the Dallas City News website at http://www.dallascitynews.net/city-council-briefed-on-tent-city, you will be able to see some of the same suggested solutions made and posted on this site last year, were suggested by Nadia Chandler-Hardy last week at the Concord Baptist Church-make it easier for the homeless to connect to much needed resources (housing, jobs and medical services) and have the community assist with the city’s plan, by suggesting those in a position  to give (churches and individuals), have an easy way to make their donations to this population. This same conversation has been going on for years, in plenty of cities, so where is the disconnect? Many of our churches are doing their part by coming out to feed the homeless, but the bigger issue actually seems to be, where is this shelter, which is open to everyone and after it has been identified, where can a homeless person find the more permanent housing?

We are discussing the issue of the homeless population, but we also need to address the fact that many people in South Dallas/Fair Park and elsewhere are just a paycheck or two away from becoming homeless. Also, we need to put some young faces out in front of the cameras, as representatives of the homeless population. People seemed to have forgotten about how many children are homeless.  Certainly, they can’t all be crazy too! However, the mainstream media consistently fails to project  images of children onto the consciousness of their viewers. The common image we have in our minds of homelessness is of an old man or woman with matted hair, draped in an old dirty blanket, looking as if they have not had a bath in well over a year and babbling on and on to their imaginary friend or foe.  Let’s sit back for a moment and ponder on how quickly government and individuals would rise to the occasion, and get out here and immediately implement what needs to be implemented, to put a stop to homelessness, once the issue of homeless children was brought to the forefront of our consciousness.

We are waiting to speak with a City representative, specifically about what is being done about the homeless population. Once this conversation has taken place, we will report back to you, The Community.

By:Arielle Johnson

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