Dallas Homeless Solutions Include Temporary Shelters at Recreation Centers

City Council to discuss new plan Wednesday

The Dallas City Council will discuss the new homeless solutions plan Wednesday.

The Dallas Homeless Solutions plan includes temporary shelters at Dallas Recreation Centers.

The latest count found a 23-percent increase in unsheltered homeless people in Dallas since 2017. More than 3,500 people were counted as homeless, nearly 1,100 unsheltered.

The plan to get more of them off the street is the results of years of meetings by a task force and commissions, along with another series of public meetings the last month. Temporary Shelters is one of four parts to the plan.  Recreation Centers are identified as a primary option for temporary shelters.

The Walnut Hill Recreation Center in North Dallas is popular with programs for young kids. Adults visiting the place with children Monday said they are reluctant about turning it over to homeless people.

“It’s a good thing to discuss and I’m not sure of all the details but, of course, you know, we love the Rec Center and don’t want to lose it,” Caroline Telaneus said.

The plan says only 8 of the city’s 43 recreation centers have been excluded from consideration. Selection criteria include access to public transportation, in areas of low crime and low poverty.

The city would arrange transportation to get homeless people to the temporary shelters that would operate for up to 90 days at a time.

The people who manage the city owned Bridge homeless facility in Downtown Dallas said they welcome more space for homeless people but have concerns that 90 days is not long enough to establish trust with homeless people and deliver the services they need to get permanent housing.

“We see that kind of time frame as difficult,” said Bridge CEO David Woody. “What we do here is draft a care and housing plan that actually time lines for folks what are their priorities, what needs to be taken care of.”

Another part of the city solution plan adds 50 more beds at The Bridge and 100 more at the Dallas Life Shelter downtown. The Dallas City Council is asked to vote August 22nd on $675,000 to provide those additional 150 shelter beds for 90 days at the two established shelters.

The solutions also include asking landlords to accept more housing vouchers provided to homeless people and to construct more permanent transitional housing for the homeless. Dallas voters approved $20 million in a 2017 bond referendum for the construction of homeless assistance facilities.

Downtown Dallas neighbors have long complained that their area carries more of the weight for homeless services than other parts of the city.

“It’s obviously a problem and if there’s a solution on the table it’s not going to hurt to try it,” said downtown resident Samuel Speights.

Dallas City Council Member Jennifer Gates, who represents the Walnut Hill Rec Center neighborhood said she is concerned that relocating shelters every 90 days would be inefficient and disruptive to neighbors who use the recreation centers.

“I think it would be a concern for any public building if we had to take it out of service,” Gates said.

NBC 5's Ken Kalthoff is covering the issue Wednesday, stay up to date via his tweets:

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