Talk to a homeless person from Texas for any amount of time, and one will quickly learn Dallas has a reputation as a destination city for vagrants.
Several recently told The Dallas Express that from Garland to Galveston, the homeless know Dallas is a place with little public harassment, a passive police department, and city officials tolerant of panhandling.
At the intersection of West Mockingbird Lane and Ambassador Row, a man named Lewis Brady held a battered cardboard sign reading, “Hungry, anything will help. God bless.”
The bearded 52-year-old said he is originally from Deaf Smith County in West Texas. After spending time homeless in Houston and Amarillo, he heard of Dallas’ attitude towards vagrancy and decided to find out for himself.
“This isn’t a bad city to be homeless in. We are tolerated and pretty much left alone,” he said, adding that employees at a nearby Church’s Chicken restaurant and McDonald’s will often slide them a meal or two.
Across from Brady’s corner is an adult bookstore, where, he claims, young homeless men often approach customers to engage in illicit activities.
“You never see a police officer there,” said Brady, who is perpetually homeless.
Brady and another homeless man live in a homeless encampment near a set of railroad tracks and Director Row. Neither man is afraid of the City’s homeless encampment strategy. Dallas officials claim they will increase clearings of homeless camps after it reviews staff safety protocols.
The homeless interviewed by The Dallas Express said officials with the taxpayer-funded Dallas Homeless Solutions often check in on their well-being. Church groups and social organizations stop by with food and water, especially during the hotter days. Lewis and others said that on good days they can collect $40 to $60, but that “depends” on where you are panhandling.
However, residents of the area are asking why the City isn’t doing more to combat the issue.
Behind Kay’s Restaurant on North Stemmons Freeway, Robbie Hamilton said city council and the police should start cracking down on the homeless problem. While he is sympathetic to their situation, Hamilton is frustrated with seeing the homeless in the neighborhood.
When told the homeless population considers Dallas a welcoming place, Hamilton simply shook his head in even more frustration.
“That is news. That should tell elected officials they need to step up their game when dealing with this issue,” he told The Dallas Express.
Calls to Dallas City Council by The Dallas Express went unreturned over several days.