City leaders are calling upon the people of Dallas to lend a hand to the homeless as Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week begins on Monday.
Dallas Council Member Tennell Atkins of District 8 implored the people of the City to talk with people experiencing homelessness and treat them with humanity.
“[We are] blessed to be here today celebrating the 2023 Hunger [and] Homeless Awareness Week,” Atkins said on November 8 at City Hall.
“Taking place the week before Thanksgiving, Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week serves as a time to reflect on what we are grateful for and how we can come together [to help an issue] affecting millions of people,” he continued.
Atkins thanked the City of Dallas Office of Homeless Solutions and local nonprofits, including The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center, the Stewpot, Austin Street Center, Our Calling, Union Gospel Mission, Dallas LIFE, and City Square, for ministering to the homeless to help them achieve stability.
“Homelessness is an issue throughout all 14 districts, throughout the whole City of Dallas,” Atkins said, imploring people to ask themselves as the holiday season approaches what they can do to help those experiencing homelessness in their community.
Atkins said that rather than simply giving change to a panhandler, the people of Dallas should work together cooperatively to address the issue of homelessness on a wider, more effective scale.
“If you see one individual, and you drive that same street over and over, and you see that same individual on the corner, why don’t you take the time and stop … talk to that individual,” he suggested.
“If you do that, it will make a difference in that person’s life.”
Atkins also remarked that people do not take care of their fellow Dallasites the same way that they used to, adding that when he was growing up, his mother would invite people into their home, give them a place to stay, and feed them while they worked to get back on their feet.
“We don’t do that anymore,” Atkins said. “We do not even take our own family in anymore. Someone else takes care of our own family. So, if [we are going to be] a great City of Dallas, please, when you see that person, just talk to them.”
Council Members Paula Blackmon, Adam Bazaldua, and Paul Ridley were also present and joined Atkins to read an official proclamation for Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.
This proclamation comes as the majority of Dallas residents say they are frustrated with homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling in their neighborhoods and throughout the City, according to recent polling from The Dallas Express.
Haven for Hope has succeeded in San Antonio with its “one-stop-shop” model for homeless services — providing transitional housing and services like counseling and job training on the same campus. The approach has been credited with a 77% reduction in homelessness in San Antonio and has polled favorably among Dallas residents.
Mayor Eric Johnson visited Haven for Hope in August; however, it remains to be seen whether the City of Dallas will adopt a similar model.