Evicted Tenants Ask Why Homeless Facility Remains Empty

Hotel purchased by the City of Dallas for homeless
Hotel purchased by the City of Dallas for homeless | Image by Homelessness Services City of Dallas

Nearly two years ago, the City of Dallas bought an extended-stay hotel to transform into a transitional housing facility for people experiencing homelessness, however, residents evicted from the hotel last year are questioning why the building is still empty.

“I don’t think it’s right what they’ve done,” said former resident Annette Ray, per The Dallas Morning News. “A lot of us were put out, and the hotel is still there vacant and empty.”

Ray, 66, stayed at the TownHouse Suites hotel at 4150 Independence Dr. for about a year before being evicted along with many others less than three months after the Dallas City Council authorized the taxpayer-sponsored $5 million purchase of the facility and nearly $2 million in planned renovations.

She said the City did not provide her with any financial aid or rehousing assistance. Bakessia Craig, who was also evicted from the hotel, claimed tenants only received one month’s notice to vacate.

“I had gotten comfortable. It was like home being there,” said Craig, 53. “So it really hurt me pretty bad when they put us out.”

Craig said the City gave her papers on “affordable housing” options in the metroplex, but the information was outdated. Additionally, she said the City claimed she would be given money to cover moving expenses, only to tell her months later that she would not receive this money.

In October, the City Council authorized spending $36,800 on moving expenses for 39 people who “have been displaced as a direct result” of the City purchasing the facility, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

City officials said more than 39 people lived in the hotel then. Still, only 39 qualified for the funding because they lived at the hotel for at least 90 days before the City entered negotiations to buy the property.

Each qualified individual will receive between $800 and $1,200 of taxpayer money. Ray is among those slated to receive the funding, but she claims she has not gotten anything from the City.

“It’s never the City’s intent to have a property that then displaces people,” Office of Homeless Solutions director Christine Crossley told the DMN, explaining that the people evicted were not eligible for the Rapid Rehousing Initiative because that program is aimed at “those who are already homeless.”

Part of the former TownHouse Suites has been renovated and opened in June. The “Resident Services Building” was the first phase of the project. However, the City has yet to hire a developer to renovate the facility’s residential units.

The City of Dallas has spent millions on transitional housing facilities for people experiencing homelessness, but many of these locations remain vacant years after being purchased by the City.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the City purchased the former Hotel Miramar at 1950 Fort Worth Ave. in 2020, but the facility is still not in use. The City has directed roughly $9.5 million of taxpayer money toward the project.

Similarly, a former hospital in Oak Cliff was purchased by the City for $6.5 million in January 2022, but the project has stagnated with no end in sight. The lack of development has raised concerns and frustrations among some Dallas City Council members.

Crossley said she does not know when the renovated TownHouse Suites will fully open, but she hopes it will happen “sooner rather than later.”

“I don’t have a specific quarter of the year it will open because we don’t even have a design back from a developer because we haven’t awarded the project yet,” Crossley told the DMN.

While the City of Dallas continues to pour millions of taxpayer dollars into homeless housing initiatives, officials have yet to pursue the model of Haven for Hope in San Antonio, which serves as a “one-stop-shop” for homelessness, providing housing and supportive services on the same campus.

This model has been credited with a 77% reduction in homelessness and has polled favorably among Dallas residents. While the City of Dallas has not yet pursued a model similar to that of Haven for Hope, a new nonprofit aims to do just that.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the new organization Haven for the Homeless is launching in Dallas to bring Haven for Hope’s model to the city. However, it remains to be seen whether the City of Dallas will partner with Haven for the Homeless as the City of San Antonio has done with Haven for Hope.

Still, polling indicates Dallasites remain largely frustrated with homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling in their neighborhoods and across the City.

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