Oak Cliff Crowd Unhappy About Homeless Housing Project

By Omar Villafranca
|  Monday, Jun 21, 2010  |  Updated 11:15 PM CDT
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Housing for Homless Met with Opposition

NBCDFW.com

Cliff Manor is a Dallas Housing Authority project would rent out 100 units to homeless people.

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Housing for Homless Met with Opposition

Plans for high-rise housing for homeless on Fort Worth Avenue in Oak Cliff were met with vocal opposition from hundreds of people.
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Oak Cliff residents said they are for development in their community, just not development in the form of a high-rise for the homeless.

Almost 400 Oak Cliff residents packed a hospital auditorium to fight the Cliff Manor development.

The Dallas Housing Authority project would rent out 100 units to homeless people. Cliff Manor, located on Fort Worth avenue, would also provide counseling and assistance to the homeless residents.

But many residents at the meeting told DHA officials, Mayor Tom Leppert, and Council Member Dave Neumann that the project is too close to an elementary school.

"What is your exit strategy when this experiment fails as it has in cities across the country?" asked one man.

One man came to the microphone stand and said he used to be homeless, but received help from a similar project, and is now a productive member of society. "It was because I was given a chance and an opportunity and I think everyone deserves that opportunity," the man said.

Paul Wehrmann lives in Oak Cliff and said he doesn't think the project would hurt the area. "It's good. If we can get homeless people and put them in units, then they're not homeless anymore. That's helping people. And I think helping people is a good thing and what we should be trying to do," Wehrmann said.

Scott Griggs, the President of the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group, told DHA officials that he felt the city is forcing many of the homeless projects south of I-30. "This project should be permanently put on hold until Dallas develops policy for permanent supportive housing," said Griggs.

Griggs also said if the project goes through, some developers looking to build in the area might move elsewhere. "They're talking about putting projects on hold. Nothing has officially been put on hold yet, but there are real concerns about projects coming down the pipeline," Griggs said.

Mary Ann Russ with the Dallas Housing Authority also answered questions regarding the timeline of the project. Many residents asked her why so many residents were not aware of the project until a few weeks ago."The fact that we did a bad job communicating doesn't mean that it wouldn't work," Russ said to boos and jeers from the crowd.

Residents said they'll keep fighting the development.

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