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Bond Will Not Fund Vacant City-Owned Hotels

hotel
Vacant hotel building | Image by Sabrina Janelle Gordon

The City of Dallas currently owns four facilities that were purchased to be used for homeless services but remain vacant, yet no funding from the upcoming $1.1 billion bond program will go toward renovating these facilities.

City staff confirmed during Wednesday’s council briefing that under their current proposal, no funds from the bond program would be used for these facilities.

“There’s been a lot of conversation about the four empty properties we have, and I’m glad that the consideration is not to purchase another one, but some of those need additional dollars for renovation,” said Council Member Cara Mendelsohn (District 12). “None of that is included as a line item for homelessness.”

Mendelsohn specifically made note of the former TownHouse Suites extended stay hotel at 4150 Independence Dr. As previously covered by The Dallas Express, roughly 40 people were evicted from the hotel after the City acquired it.

The facility partially opened in June, but the property’s residential units have yet to be renovated and remain unused.

“So we bought a building. We kicked people out. We’ve got a building that has a nice reception area … but we don’t have the money to fully renovate those rooms, right?” asked Mendelsohn.

“No, that’s not included in the bond,” said Jenny Nicewander, interim director of the Office of Bond and Construction Management.

City Manager T.C. Broadnax later said the timeline for these four projects did not align with the timeline of the bond program.

However, City staff did include in their bond funding recommendation an allocation of $10 million for permanent supportive housing (PSH).

Mendelsohn noted that PSH is a federal program and said local tax dollars should not be directed toward PSH.

“I’m not aware of any city in the DFW region that funds permanent supportive housing out of their general funds or out of their bond funds,” she said. “With almost $17 billion of identified need, I don’t think we need to start a whole new program. That’s clearly a federal issue.”

“We cannot solve every problem in our city with City dollars,” Mendelsohn explained. “Some of those are state things, some of those are county things, and some of those are federal things. We have a limited budget.”

City staff presented their recommended bond allocations to the City Council on Wednesday, as did Community Bond Task Force chair Arun Agarwal, as reported by The Dallas Express.

Agarwal confirmed that the task force also did not consider using bond funds to renovate the four vacant facilities that were purchased by the City to be used as housing for people experiencing homelessness.

The City of Dallas is involved with several local homeless response initiatives, yet residents continue to say they are frustrated with homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling throughout the City, according to polling.

Some local stakeholders are working to establish “Haven for the Homeless” in Dallas, taking inspiration from Haven for Hope in San Antonio.

As reported by The Dallas Express, Haven for Hope has been credited with a 77% reduction in homelessness using its “one-stop-shop” approach in which housing and supportive services are offered on the same campus.

This model has polled favorably among Dallas residents. Still, it remains to be seen whether the City of Dallas will partner with Haven for the Homeless as the City of San Antonio has partnered with Haven for Hope.

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