Dallas Mayor Vows to Close Tent City, Build New Housing

A deadline is looming for the people living in the Dallas homeless encampment, Tent City.

Mayor Mike Rawlings said the city will be requiring everyone to leave by May, whether they want to or not.

“You do it in a civil, but serious manner and say, ‘You're not going to stay here,’” explained Rawlings during his State of the Homeless address on Tuesday.

Accompanying the mayor were service providers, all whom agree the city, county and state need to come up with a permanent housing solution for the homeless in Dallas.

But any kind of solution will be costly. 

“From a long-term standpoint, we are talking about tens of millions of dollars,” Rawlings said. “But it's a very great return on investment because these homeless people are costing us money as we speak.”

In the short-term, shelters around Dallas are preparing for the influx of homeless coming out of the encampment.  

“We have about 250, and we're looking to go to about 300,” said Jay Dunn, CEO of The Bridge.

One of the largest in the city, they’ll share the majority of the people leaving Tent City with another shelter. However, at its peak, the encampment became home to approximately 240 people.  

Dunn doesn’t believe they have enough space for all of them.

“That would get us maybe about half the group that's there,” he explained. “Then, we've got to start talking about longer term solutions.”

Despite the problems within the encampment, Dunn believes it has actually drawn more attention to a “housing crisis” they have been dealing with for years.  

“I think Tent City is going to help us all recognize how important it is to finally start addressing these issues,” he said. “We have an affordable housing problem. We have to deal with it.”

On April 6, Rawlings will be briefed on how the homeless will be moved out of the encampment.  

The city expects to begin that process in the first week of May.

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