Tent City Residents Not Eager to Leave

Two weeks away from closure, residents of Tent City in Dallas aren't eager to relocate.

Since city leaders announced plans to close the homeless encampment under Interstate 45 in phases, service providers have been trying to convince many to seek support at area shelters. However, few want to leave.

"I'm convinced some of them are quite scared. They've been out here for upwards of a year or more, and they don't want relocate," said Bob Sweeney, executive director of Dallas LIFE.

Last week, Sweeney's shelter took in five people from the encampment. One has since dropped out. Case workers are visiting weekly to attempt to take down more names and information of possible shelter residents, but the process can be slow.

"Our goal is to get them to stay," explained Sweeney. "I think some people are just afraid of shelters. Maybe they're thinking they're going to be a number, they’re going to fall in line with everybody else."

The city has set a shutdown date of May 4. To accomplish that, they've slowly moved people out, posting "no trespassing" signs and putting up fences in areas they have closed. But that hasn't stopped people from coming and staying.

"If you all move them out, and they don't have nowhere to go, they're going to eventually end up right back here at Tent City," said Eura Brown of O Taste and See ministry.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, Brown and her staff stop at various spots around the city to deliver meals to the homeless. They started coming to Tent City two years ago, and they plan to continue serving the encampment until it's gone.

"We'll be coming here until they lock us out," Brown said. "They still are going to need food. I know the city of Dallas hasn't found housing for all of them."

Some living in areas the city has already shutdown have simply moved to another part of the encampment. Others have sought the assistance offered by groups, such as Sweeney's. However, with a deadline looming, it's unclear if service providers will reach everyone in time. In the last few months, another encampment has already popped up under Interstate 30 in the city. Residents there don't have any intention of leaving.

"Where will they go? That's my question. Where will they go?" asked Brown. "I don't think it's going to work."

Contact Us