The Dallas City Council rezoned a hotel in Lake Highlands to be used for more housing for the homeless amid a grave plight of homelessness and vagrancy throughout the city.
The location has been dubbed the “Hotel from Hell” by local residents due to surrounding criminal activity, reported Candy’s Dirt.
Last year, the Dallas Police Department designated the hotel as a habitual crime property, as previously covered by The Dallas Express.
The former Extended Stay America hotel at 9019 Vantage Point Dr. was rezoned by council members during Wednesday’s council meeting, changing it from a Multiple Commercial District to a Mixed Use District.
The zoning change will allow the property to be purchased by St. Jude Inc., which will then develop the property into a “transitional housing facility” for the homeless. Council Member Adam McGough, who represents the council district where the hotel is located — District 10 — supported the move.
“This is something we’ve delayed numerous times, and I believe for a valid and good reason,” he said Wednesday. “This has been one of the most dangerous properties in our entire area.”
“Yes, this is just a zoning change, but it has lots of implications for other impacts in our community,” he continued. “It’s something the community has engaged in and was very clear that they did not want to reward the previous property owner that had been so bad and allowed such horrible impacts in our community.”
McGough said he thinks St. Jude taking over the property “is a much better option” as the organization will “allow the community to speak to what the final project will be.”
These facilities offer “permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless people paired with intensive casework and programs aimed at resolving the problems that caused homelessness to begin with,” according to St. Jude Treasurer Joseph Dingman.
Dingman told council members that St. Jude Inc. intends to close its purchase of the former hotel by the end of the summer and “do a major renovation of the property to make it suitable for long-term occupancy.”
He said the organization plans to reopen the facility as St. Jude Vantage Point early next year.
“In our hands, the property will look better, and the operation there will be helpful to the community, not a burden,” Dingman claimed. “We will be taking folks out of encampments, not taking lots of police calls to the property.”
He contended that the facility would not take in anyone with a violent criminal record and would have strict rules that guests must follow in order to stay at the center.
Dingman claimed having this facility will “help solve the community problem [of] homelessness.”
Previous polling conducted by The Dallas Express has shown that most Dallas residents agree that homelessness and vagrancy are serious issues that the City must address.
The City itself purchased four hotels in recent years to be used for homeless services, yet two of them still remain unused, as reported by The Dallas Express.
Another of the four, the former Gateway Hotel at 8102 Lyndon B. Johnson Fwy., was renovated into St. Jude Center Park Central.
While many organizations, both nonprofits and governmental bodies, attempt to tackle the crisis of homelessness and vagrancy in various locations throughout Dallas, the city has yet to test the effective strategy implemented in San Antonio.
San Antonio’s Haven for Hope has shown great success by serving as a “one-stop-shop” for homelessness that centralizes lodging and supportive services at a single location in the city.
Polling by The Dallas Express has shown Dallas residents favor this approach.