As of 12:30 p.m. tonight, the petition started by Buckner Terrace resident Abbi Reynolds has expanded to 920 signatures and is quickly gaining speed. If Mayor Rawlings and the Dallas City Council chose to move ahead despite the protests of nearly 1,000 residents, I would think that would be political suicide, if not worse.

And after reading the comments on this petition, I have to agree with the neighborhood. At first blush when my City Councilman suggested it, I thought Timberlawn, because of it’s layout, would make a great homeless center — thinking more along the lines of a place where social and psychiatric services could be offered. And the price might be right: DCAD value is about $2.6

But no, no, no, for several solid reasons:

-The building is historical and should be preserved as a possible museum or cultural center. It could also be sold and made into a luxury hotel and conference center. Think I’m nuts? In June, we stayed at the Blackburn Inn in Staunton, Virgina, a luxury hotel converted from a mental institution. Built in 1828 by Thomas Jefferson’s architect as the nation’s second mental hospital, the  long-abandoned insane asylum and prison in Staunton was known as the Western State Lunatic Asylum and not an easy renovation: it took 12 years for the 33,000 square foot property but the developers are moving forward to add condos, apartments, helipads, and restored houses. Bathrooms were gorgeous (vessel tubs!) and we slept very very well, thank you.

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Homelessness has increased in Dallas by 9 percent, unsheltered homelessness by 23 percent almost a quarter since 2017. There are many reasons why, too many to go into right now. You may recall when the tent city was shut down, a plan was enacted to move the homeless to Hensley Field, the site of a former naval air station near Grand Prairie. The plan hinged on $50 million in private donations to build tiny homes and other living facilities on the 350-acre lot, including lots of support services. But the media balked at the feel of “rounding up” people and concentrating services. Now the services are concentrated downtown.

But is shuffling people all over town, taking temporary shelter in recreational centers where children play and swim, a sensible approach?

I spoke to Linda Garner, who was appointed to the Citizen’s Homeless Commission by Adam Medrano, and who lives in the Cedars, ground zero for the homeless in Dallas. Linda understands the Four Track program and tells me that the solution to homelessness is to remove the concentration from downtown, where most services happen to be. I get it. It’s like sending your kid to boarding school to get him away from the riff-raff. She believes in the concept of small “boutique” shelters that exist across Dallas, but off the radar because they are in low-density areas. For example, one she discovered off Denton Drive.

“I think the temporary aspect is expensive, but we truly need to decentralize homeless services from downtown,” Linda told me. (more…)

These 20 city-owned recreation centers have been deemed “ideal” candidates to temporarily house the homeless:

These recreation centers are only deemed “good” – meaning the centers above are preferred locations. We are working to get the entire presentation up on SCRIBD 

Tiny Homes Unlocking at Hickory Groves

Mayor Rawlings joined with city leaders and the people who made the dream of homes for some of Dallas’ chronically homeless a reality. Photos: Lisa Stewart Photography

At today’s unlocking of the Cottages at Hickory Crossing, Mayor Mike Rawlings stated that “The answer to homelessness is homes.” It’s such a simple-sounding statement that, in truth, could not be more complex.

The Cottages at Hickory Crossing are being billed as “the first of its kind housing community,” and will provide 50 tiny homes designed to shelter some of Dallas’ most chronically homeless. A lofty goal, but what are its chances of succeeding? This Lifestylist® took a close look at this community and had some thoughts of her own.

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