North Dallas, Preston Hollow: Pop-Up Homeless Shelters May Be Coming To Your Neighborhood…

Pop up homeless shelters may soon be coming to recreational centers all over Dallas, including North Dallas and the fringes of Preston Hollow — Fretz Park, Campbell Green, Timberglen, Walnut Hill Recreation Center, Churchill Recreation Center — if a current proposal from the newly created Office for Homeless Solutions to house Dallas’ homeless is approved by the Dallas City Council.

Why?

Apparently downtown Dallas residents who live with problems created by Dallas’ growing homeless population have encouraged the OHS to “spread them around Dallas.”

And it’s not just that housing the homeless in city-owned recreation centers around the city is a terrible idea, the OHS’s plans are not exactly complete or well-thought out for the homeless or for neighborhoods, schools. It’s also not financially responsible, and downright crazy when it comes to transportation. Some say it almost sounds as if the OHS seems to be pushing the plan fast, before too many questions are asked.

There is a time limit at each pop up shelter, sort of. Leaders of the OHS are proposing to house homeless for at least 90 days at a time, on a sort of rotation plan.

How to explain: OHS wants four pop up locations – one in the north, one in the east, one in the west, and one in the south, where homeless can stay at least 90 days, then be switched to a different pop-up in the same quadrant (north, south, east or west) so only four centers would be make-shift shelters at a time.
Each location will house it’s group at least 90 days. In extreme weather – hot or cold — the city may open up to 10 pop up centers at a time to accommodate the need.

Experts say city code to allow for this use may have to change, meaning any city-owned property could become a pop up homeless shelter, at any time. And not just city-owned properties: a retail space or church could potentially become a homeless shelter, too, without special zoning.  

It also sounds like a logistical nightmare, since each person must be transported to first an intake center, then transported to whatever recreation center, or a homeless shelter. But if the person wants to leave in the middle of the night, the city will have to provide transportation, and then every morning they will have to be transported to the day shelter (if they want to go), then transported back to the pop up shelter at night.

Who would be doing all this driving? Uber has been proposed; not exactly cost-effective. And who is paying? Funding for some of this will be new dollars in the city budget.

North Dallas community leader Cara Mendelsohn, Executive Director, Rebuilding Together North Texas, is vice-chair of the Citizen’s Homelessness Commission and has misgivings about this plan’s ability to serve people experiencing homelessness and its potential for wasting city dollars and bond money. 

“There are so many important aspects of Track 2, 3 and 4 that have not been defined or clarified, it would be irresponsible to approve without more detailed information. The Commission has been asking questions for months and we still don’t have answers to basic questions on how these tracks would operate. I think we need more planning and transparency than a few bullet points.” says Cara.

“The Dallas Area Partnership on Homelessness has also been involved, but I don’t think they have approved it,” she adds. 

Basically, the homeless plan is divided into a “4 track” system. Cara agrees Track 1, which would fully use the capacity at existing shelters on a pay-to-stay basis, is a good idea and will help get up to 150 people off the street immediately. But she is concerned that OHS has no plans to check Track 2 participants — those going to recreation centers for sheltering– for weapons, drugs, convictions of violent offenses, or infectious diseases such as hepatitis A.

 “The Track 2 plan is unworkable and unnecessarily expensive,” says Cara. “Track 4, a commitment of $20 million, barely has bullet points to describe the plan. In fact, there is no plan!”

This program needs to be delayed, says Mendelsohn, until there are answers, major modifications, or an actual plan is made.

“Shouldn’t taxpayers expect at least as many details on a $23 million comprehensive homeless plan as one would see on a United Way grant application?” she asks.

 What to do? 

“Contact your councilperson,” says Cara. “If your city council member doesn’t hear from you, they won’t know there is a problem.”

District 12 is Sandy.Greyson@dallascityhall.com and

District 11 is Lee.Kleinman@dallascityhall.com.

District 13 is Jennifer.Gates@dallascityhall.com

And tune in to CandysDirt.com as we keep on top of this developing story.

12 Comment

  • What complete nonsense. Why not take all that time and energy and build more shelters? They need to consider long term solutions and a more organic process that truly helps the homeless get back on their feet.

    • Dallas doesn’t think things through. Statue removal comes to mind. Act fast, think later. Closed tent city, and all that did was spread the problem around and I don’t think it helped those that need the help. The shelters say many people won’t go there, because of the rules. So Why will they go to the new shelters? Will there be no rules, come and go as they please?

      • Tent City was never closed. It has moved twice and is now somewhere that is not as viewable by the public eye.

        • mm

          Thought the plan was to move it to Hensley Field, the site of a former naval air station near Grand Prairie. But that didn’t happen when the media fussed it was too concentration-camp like.

          • That was a citizen-led plan that, as far as I can recall, was never seriously considered by the city because…it WAS a concentration camp. Put all the homeless undesirables in a single, unseen location under the guise of “easier to provide services to them all” sounds an awful lot like a concentration camp, does it not?

          • DPD still uses Hensley Field for storage of new vehicles and making them ready for service.

  • Our neighborhood has moved forward in so many ways this would set us back hugely! Kids now play in the front yards and ride bikes along the streets. This neighborhood would be affected negatively in so many ways. It would be changed for the worse and I would be so sad to see that happen.

  • I’ve worked with homeless, but Northwood Hills is not the place for this! We have little children who play outside. Let’s keep our neighborhood safe. This is a foolish idea. We do not need drugs, and people who haven’t passed background checks, loitering around our neighborhood and eyeing our daughters and sons.

  • The Office of Homeless Solutions will be briefing City Council August 1, 2018 in the morning. Here is their PowerPoint deck. No mention of police who definitely need to be involved.

    http://dallascityhall.com/government/Council%20Meeting%20Documents/b_homeless-solutions-proposed-strategy_combined_080118.pdf

  • I suppose Pop-Up accurately describes the thought process. What happened with the “The Bridge” the last ultimate solution for this concern? ? First, the challenge is homeless does not stop with the idea of shelter. The reason people deemed “homeless” are an issue extends beyond temporary economic misfortune. That category should find it’s own footing again, even as they require temporary support. The long term concern is for those who require services beyond temporary shelter or housing. Those with chemical dependency, mental or long term health concerns will not get the services they require from Pop-Up solutions. The idea of transporting the problem around town frankly sounds evil. Even our police force is being re-trained on how to deal with these encounters, how do we expect neighborhoods to react? Services need to address the root causes and address them on a planned basis rather than push through something that has unintended (usually bad) consequences.