City Launches Homeless Response Team


Homeless man lying on bench | Image by Ground Picture

Director Christine Crossley submitted a memo on the City’s new response team for homeless and vagrants to the Housing and Homeless Solutions Committee meeting on Tuesday.

The Homeless Action Response Team (H.A.R.T.) will be used to provide expedited service to “issues … presenting an immediate safety concern,” which include “the presence of firearms, uncontrolled fires, reports of threatening behavior, [and] reports of aggressive illegal solicitation.”

The group will be comprised of a “Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), Dallas Animal Services (DAS), Dallas Marshals, and Code Compliance (Code),” according to a memo provided by Crossley.

“This team is supplemented by Parks and Recreation, Dallas Fire & Rescue, and Public Works as needed,” she continued.

As of the meeting, the Office of Homeless Solutions (OHS) had filled six additional positions for the H.A.R.T. program. Furthermore, OHS has rented two trucks for the team while waiting for the City to acquire dedicated vehicles.

The program will have detachments posted at various times during the week in Councilwoman Jaynie Schultz’s District 11 and Councilman Tennell Atkins’ District 8.

“All H.A.R.T. members are currently undergoing three weeks of team-specific training,” Crossley explained. “The H.A.R.T. initiative is fully operational at the time of this briefing.”

Members of H.A.R.T. will be required to respond to service requests within 48 hours and fully resolve the issue in 10 days.

This initiative comes as the City of Dallas has struggled to effectively address the “scourge of homelessness,” as Mayor Eric Johnson suggested in his recent State of the City address.

Another difficulty facing Dallas is the bands of armed activists that have driven off city employees attempting to clean and sweep homeless encampments, as reported by The Dallas Express.

Furthermore, developing areas have been burdened by homeless and vagrant encampments, which pose security concerns, leading some businesses to hire private security.

At the same meeting, Crossley also updated the committee on the Inclement Weather Operational Plan for housing for the homeless and vagrant, which will include centers at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church, Warren United Methodist Church, the Austin Street Center, and Fair Park.

The full city council will vote on funding the Fair Park inclement weather and leasing additional room from the Austin Street Center, as previously reported on The Dallas Express.

The Dallas Express will be covering the city council meeting on Wednesday, the last full meeting of the year.

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