Mayor Announces Task Force on Homelessness

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson | Image by Noah DeGarmo/The Dallas Express

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson announced on Tuesday the formation of a task force to address homelessness, a plan he first revealed in his State of the City address last year.

The Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness, Organizations, Policies and Encampments (HOPE) will be responsible for finding and developing concrete solutions to reduce homelessness in Dallas and recommending those solutions to the City government.

The task force’s report of recommendations will be due on June 15.

Johnson emphasized that this task force will be dissolved when its mission is complete and will not become another layer of government bureaucracy.

Though the City’s Office of Homeless Solutions is set to spend about $15 million of taxpayer money this fiscal year, polling conducted by The Dallas Express suggests a clear majority of citizens still believe homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling are serious problems in Dallas.

Further polling and reporting indicate that Dallas residents in general, as well as homeless and vagrant people in particular, favor a “one-stop shop” on the model of San Antonio’s Haven for Hope that would concentrate City homeless services in a single location.

In the meantime, some stakeholders view the mayor’s new task force as a step in the right direction.

“It’s just an awesome opportunity for us to increase the collaboration that’s already happening within our system,” Joli Robinson, CEO of Housing Forward, told The Dallas Express. “It’s always refreshing when one of our elected officials, our mayors, also stand in the gap and really have an eye towards, ‘What are all of the solutions that we can throw at such a complex issue such as homelessness?'”

Dallas County Commissioner Theresa Daniel, who serves as the partnership chair of the Dallas Area Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness, told The Dallas Express she looks forward to seeing what the “charge” of the task force is going to be.

“How does it fit in with what the City of Dallas is doing as well as Dallas County and so many of the other cities?” Daniel asked.

When asked whether the partnership will collaborate with the mayor’s new task force, Commissioner Daniel said, “To me, that’s the only way it makes sense.”

Johnson appointed Peter Brodsky, chair of Housing Forward; Betty Culbreath, chair of the Dallas Housing Authority and the former director of Dallas County Health and Human Services; and Ellen Magnis, president and CEO of Family Gateway, as co-chairs of the task force.

Johnson said that, while Dallas has made progress in its fight against homelessness through programs such as the Dallas R.E.A.L. Time Rapid Rehousing Initiative, the City cannot accept that progress as “good enough.”

“Like every major city in the United States, Dallas has been affected by increasing homelessness in recent years,” the mayor said at City Hall on Tuesday, explaining that homelessness is a complex problem of economic hardship, substance abuse, mental illness, public safety, criminal justice, and public health.

Johnson noted that homelessness affects not only the individuals who are homeless but also the people of the city as a whole.

“We also have residents of this city who are also trying to get by and do right by their families and their communities who want to go to work every day and come home,” he said.

“Unfortunately, they see growing numbers of encampments in their neighborhoods. They see people passed out on the sidewalks. They see people walking naked on the streets. They see trash. They see waste. They see tents pitched on our freeway underpasses.”

“They want and they expect to live in a city that does not tolerate, and certainly does not facilitate, disorder,” the mayor continued.

“We will ensure that Dallas is addressing homelessness in a way that is smart, compassionate, and considerate of the health, safety, and quality of life of all of our residents and businesses.”

Johnson also noted that homelessness is not a problem for the City government alone to solve and will require collaboration from the County, nonprofits, and the people of Dallas.

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  1. PMac

    Why is it always the same people who get nominated end up never doing anything that’s right for the tax payer?

  2. Lay Monk Jeffery

    It has taken the city this long to attempt a resolution to the problem. Harassing, threatening, harming people, destroying property, constant littering and the list goes on. Now the city wants to spend all of the tax payers dollars to try and resolve this issue. Why did the city wait so long? I am all for helping people but those who do not want any help and will not accept it, what are you going to do? Detox, mental institution and other forms of treatment are needed here but when the person refuses, then what?

  3. Bill

    If the plan doesn’t call for Orkin Pest Control then it is doomed to failure. The late and great Sam Kinison had two lines about the homeless that I really liked. One is that people should be allowed to shoot the homeless and it might encourage them to make something of themselves. The second line is that the homeless simply need to F someone who has a house.

  4. Betsy Whitfill

    Good news. Brodsky is a fine leader. I’ll be watching for the 6 month results – ie. nobody living on the streets. Then we can celebrate safe cities that practice compassion. Aiding homelessness is not compassion, it is enabling the degradation of humanity.

  5. Hunter McGrath

    Another task force, wow! Underwhelming Mr. Mayor. Please initiate real action based on the facts today!
    Hunter McGrath

  6. Bill

    Boy has Dallas gone down hill. A task force? Sounds like something they would do in LA or Chicago or NYC. Wake up Dallas. Who are these folks you’re electing?

  7. R Reason

    These comments make me wonder if it is better to be homeless or heartless?

    • Janet

      Good point!

  8. Bret

    4 months from now we will hear the results of a task force. Committee s are set up by our politicians to make it look like they are doing something when they do not want to do anything. In four months they hope the people will have forgotten and moved on or the problem miraculously goes away. This problem was started by the government and now you think the government wants to fix it or even can fix it. Plenty of examples of cities out there who have cured the homelessness problem to a manageable level. One month of work should give them the tools to remedy this problem. Not four. Four months to get ideas and 10 months to implement them means the problem will be much worse. If a corporation is going under and they go give a committee 4 months to rectify the problem it will be to late.

  9. J S

    How much more talk, bs, task force, etc is it going to take for these corrupt asses to do something.
    Because I could not get emergency help well actually I received no crisis help my dog almost died, I walked 15 miles to find shelter and spent the entire day/night in freezing and below freezing Temps and went well over 24 hours without sleep. THANKS MAYOR I DONT CARE!

  10. ThisGuyisTom

    A problem I have with politicians is that often they “pretend” and push out a Public Relations cover.
    The month of May brings a Council/Mayor election.
    People want results and effective action, not pretense.

  11. Karen

    Here we go again… task force? This is another waste of tax payers money. The root cause of homelessness is mental illness & substance abuse. Treat those two and follow up with long term SUPPORTIVE housing.

  12. Mitch

    Our city is one of the dirtiest in the nation. Trash everywhere. Homeless and panhandlers everywhere. Crime is rampant, yet our mayor says otherwise. Elections coming up in May. Can that be why the task force? Time to put someone else in office that will take steps to make sure we don’t go the way of LA, NYC or Chicago.

  13. Concerned Voter

    Who on the Task Force represents the home and small business owners who are affected by homeless encampments in and around their homes and businesses? Public comments is not the place to address the quality of life and economic concerns of home and business owners.


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