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Dallas Hides Homeless Service Call Data From Public

Homeless man
Homeless man | Image by Ronald Rampsch/Shutterstock

The City appears to have removed descriptive data from the public-facing dashboard, which shows the number of homeless service 311 calls across Dallas.

The City’s Office of Homeless Solutions 311 homeless service calls dashboard displays the number and status of such service requests on a rolling 30-day basis. As of May 26, the dashboard contained details submitted by individuals trying to call the City’s attention to homeless encampments.

“Fires and lights visible at night at this location,” read one request about a camp at 9798 N. Walton Walker Blvd. in Council Member Omar Narvaez’s District 6. The request was submitted on May 12 and was listed as “in progress” last weekend, as reported by The Dallas Express.

On June 2, that same service request was still “in progress”; however, the description provided by the person who submitted the request was gone.

Another service request reported on by DX also appears to have lost previously public-facing details.

“They are starting fires during the day and at night. We had to call the fire department last night,” read the request about a homeless encampment in Council Member Jesse Moreno’s District 2 at 4678 New Water Ln. The request was submitted on May 24. It was resolved on May 29, some five days later; however, the note about the fires had disappeared.

DX clicked on dozens of the 868 listed homeless service requests on the dashboard. None contained descriptions of what prompted the request outside of the designator “Homeless Encampment.” While not every request contained a description of the issue on May 26 and prior, many did. Some were brief, and others were more detailed.

“As of today (4/26/24), it appears the City has picked up trash on the curb along Denton [Drive], but the tent encampment remains at the back of the lot. Observed one individual (female) walk out under the influence of something, stagger, and settled on a porch of a home across the street. Observed another individual walking out, and three more walking up Denton with a shopping cart loaded with items,” read one submission regarding an encampment at 1362 Marilla St. in District 2, as DX previously reported in April.

DX reached out to the City and asked officials to confirm the elimination of such descriptions from the public-facing dashboard. A spokesperson for the City responded on Monday, June 3:

“We have investigated the dashboard and we believe that the data mentioned in the email was down for a period over this weekend. Data for the dashboard has been restored. The Office of Data Analytics and Business Intelligence is committed to data transparency as we continue to publish public-facing data products.”

Polling suggests that more than two-thirds of Dallas residents believe homelessness, vagrancy, and aggressive panhandling are “major” problems. Surveyed residents also appear to be generally supportive of the “one-stop-shop” homeless services model used by Haven for Hope in San Antonio. The model has been credited with a 77% reduction in unsheltered homelessness in the city’s center.

Some local stakeholders want to try such a model in Dallas. However, it is unclear whether City officials will consider the solution.

UPDATE: This article was updated on June 3, 2024, at 12 p.m. to include a response from the City of Dallas.

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