Dallas Neighborhood Association Proposes Tent City Alternative

Neighbors of the recently dissolved tent city in Dallas have proposed an alternative to Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.

The homeless encampment, grew to more than 200 people setting up makeshift shelter under Interstate 45. At its peak, residents in the newly formed Cedars neighborhood — east of Austin Street, north of Corinth Street and west of Harwood Street — noticed an increased amount of traffic, loitering and crime.

"The Cedars neighborhood itself is a transitional neighborhood and we deal with a lot of different types of people," Cedars Neighborhood Association President Michael Sitarzewski said. "We have super low income families and we also have people paying 600,000 for a condo,' he said.

Tent City was dissolved in early May, and now city officials are discussing more permanent solutions regarding shelter for the homeless. Sitarzewski has proposed "Dignity Field," which is a homeless encampment that would be built on Hensley Field in Grand Prairie.

"The proposal that I have is more built around community. People can not only sleep and camp there, but there would also be a medical facility, a clinic and behavioral rehab facility," he said. "No one would be forced to move there. It's not a concentration camp. I would hope that they would move there and the camp will be built around community. The homeless can set up their tents, and there will be other 'tiny houses' on site."

The neighborhood is also surrounded by several shelters, recovery centers and food banks.

"Residents here should feel safe," Sitarzewski said. "They shouldn't be harassed while walking down the street or waiting for the bus."

Sitarzewski has been just one of the many concerned residents meeting with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings about issues surrounding the growing homeless population.

"We had about six or seven tent city conversations at city hall," he said.

Sitarzewski has also written in 24-hour security and a shuttle that would transport people to and from the camp.

Other ideas that the mayor's homeless commission will discuss are the old downtown jail and the old Dallas Independent School District buildings.

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