The Metro Homeless Alliance Thursday will reveal new information about homelessness in the city of Dallas in the 2017 State of Homeless Address.
Members of the homeless commission will also attend the meeting and discuss the some of the factors that have led to an increase in the homeless population within the city.
“Its very disheartening to see the homeless population grow,” said Tanya Ragan, who was a part of the Homeless Commission. “Almost a year after ‘Tent City’ was cleared out, men and women looking for shelter are back forming new camps in the same area. We have come full circle. Since 2015, we started with 40 homeless camps and now we are up to 200. The youth population and our veteran population has grown,” said Ragan.
The lack of housing options is a major factor. The shelters remain at capacity, and every month turn away at least 20 teens, 30 families, and more than 600 domestic violence survivors. According to the latest report from the city of Dallas, 1,100 homeless men and women were given housing vouchers worth $8 million, but many of those vouchers went unused.
“A lot of us have vouchers, but we can’t get a landlord to accept them,” said one man who is now living underneath I-45. “We need landlords to accept people with vouchers and that has to be city wide. It cannot be from a few districts. It needs to be a position as a city we are willing to take to take care of the people here. These are citizens, these are people…. These issues can’t be about politics,” she said.
Since the Homeless Commission has formed there have been some positive aspects.
“There are some good things that have come out of the commission. They are doing a better job of educating the public about homelessness, more partnerships have been formed, and awareness is increasing, but we still need real practical change,” said Ragan.
Now that the initial commission is ending, members are calling for a “Citizens Homeless Commission” to provide innovative ideas and transparency.
“The mayor and the county feel passionate about this issue, but we really need a citizens board and citizen commission driving the conversation and quite honestly holding our city leaders accountable. If we don’t do something now, the problem will continue,” said Ragan.
The 2017 State of Homeless Address was scheduled Thursday at the Goodwill Industries of Dallas between 9 a.m to 11 a.m.