Mendelsohn | ‘City Not Helping Homelessness’

Homeless encampment on the sidewalk | Image by Philip Pilosian/Shutterstock

At a meeting of the City Council’s Housing and Homelessness Solutions Committee on Tuesday, Council Member Cara Mendelsohn of District 12 claimed that the City is not effectively addressing Dallas’ homelessness and vagrancy crisis.

During the meeting, City officials updated council members on the status of the Homeless Action Response Team (HART).

While officials touted the success of HART, Mendelsohn reprimanded staff for not cleaning up homeless and vagrant encampments in her district.

Office of Homeless Solutions (OHS) Director Christine Crossley reported that HART closed 143 service requests within 10 days since the initiative was launched in December.

However, Mendelsohn said several of her constituents have told her that they have reported encampments to the City, but that their service requests were getting closed without the issue actually being remedied.

Crossley claimed that staff members were simply clearing out “duplicate requests.”

Mendelsohn maintained that the City is “not doing enforcement that’s necessary” and its failure to address homeless and vagrant encampments is making her constituents “extremely frustrated.”

According to Crossley’s report, HART visited 110 encampment locations and cleaned 94 since its inception.

City marshals provide security for HART during encampment engagements and operate based on a three-tiered response protocol. Tier 1 is simply an encampment cleaning with no threat of violence. Tier 2 is an encampment cleaning or closure “with intelligence that activists will be at the location protesting.”

Dallas City Marshals Chief David Pughes said Tier 2 was instituted, at least in part, because of the armed activists who prevented City staff from cleaning encampments last summer.

“Prior to the creation of the HART team … marshals encountered resistance, and at one location, armed activists tried to prevent the City from doing their job and cleaning up the encampment,” he said.

Crossley previously claimed to The Dallas Express that this was not the case.

Pughes told council members that Tier 2 was activated when the City undertook a large encampment cleanup at Baylor Street and Dawson Street.

He added that Tier 3 — which involves an encampment closure with the likelihood of active resistance, open-carry protestors, and possible arrests — has yet to be activated and he does not anticipate that it will need to be.

During the same meeting, Crossley also reported that OHS is in the third marketing phase of its “Give Responsibly” campaign, which encourages residents to direct their donations to organizations that offer support to the homeless rather than simply giving cash to panhandlers.

“Giving spare change without offering support could make matters worse,” the City previously said in a tweet.

Despite the City’s efforts, and the many services it and local nonprofits offer the homeless, many vagrants continue to willingly live on the street.

While the City continues to spend millions in taxpayer money responding to homelessness and vagrancy, many Dallas residents favor the successful approach of Haven for Hope in San Antonio — a one-stop shop for homelessness that provides services in a contained geographic area.

More than 75% of downtown residents believe that “homelessness is a significant issue,” according to polling conducted by Downtown Dallas Inc.

Additional polling conducted by The Dallas Express has found that the majority of Dallasites view “homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling” as “serious problems in Dallas.”

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  1. PMac

    Cara Mendelsohn is the only one concerned about the homeless camps in Dallas on that city council . She is getting no help from the city.

  2. Bret

    The only way to fix homelessness is to allow a robust economy by lowering taxes and reducing laws that stifle businesses. Stopping governments from spending ridiculous amounts of money on programs that never work would be helpful along with the federal government’s spending spree last two years that has led to inflation that makes it difficult for people to pay bills and eat. The ones that choose to be there anyway should be removed and punished the ones with mental health issues should be helped if possible. Drug users should be punished.

    • Djea3

      Bret, the economy has nothing to do with homelessness in any long term thought process. Government should spend ZERO on any homeless person, period, Churches and social program should being in charge of it ALL.
      Taxes need to DROP precipitously in order for this to happen as the government has increased taxes which tore into the churches and non-profit donations. We can not have a government doing for society the things that the church and mankind would do.
      All this changed during the Great Depression when the government took over all.

  3. Djea3

    It is NOT the government’s business to end or help or aid the ending of homelessness. In fact we already know that EVERYTHING the government touches turns brown so it is best if it touches very little.

    For those who WANT help and NEED help and are by circumstance homeless, there is usually help available.

    Most of the time when we speak of homelessness, we speak of the thousands who are on the streets by choice, much of which is choose of drugs. There is NO helping any of these UNTIL they come and ASK for help and actually mean it.

    I know, I have had friends and met people who are on the streets by CHOICE, not circumstance. They have girlfriends and boyfriends and eat regularly and cost the taxpayers 500 to 10,000 every time they get hurt or need a place warm to sleep (they use the Emergency Rooms for hotel in super hot or cold weather).

    Frankly, if society cut them loose, no more medical visits to ER, no more free meals, no more…of this BS, then they would straighten up or move on to a Blue city where they can crap on the streets and steal up to $900 per shoplift without repercussion.

  4. Mike

    When you give a homeless person money directly there is no administrative cost. When you donate to a charity an administrative cost is incurred.

    • fed up with Dallas County

      The income tax you paid is an administrative cost.

  5. Mac Smith

    The answer to homelessness, in most cases, is work and sobriety.

    There are effective programs for people who want to sober up and go to work. Dallas Life runs one.

    The rest need an intervention. That can come from arresting homeless people who violate the law, sentencing them to a couple of weeks in jail and, while you have a “captive audience”, using the time to sober them up, counsel them and motivate them to get out of the lifestyle. The City of Dallas, or the county needs to develop such a program.
    At the end of their sentence, give them a haircut, fresh clothes from the Salvation Army and a month paid at one of the homeless shelters. If they want out, they can take a job with one of the day labor companies. If they don’t, arrest them and do it again.

    Most of the efforts to help the homeless are directed at making the homeless more comfortable in the lifestyle. That is like feeding stray cats. The more you do it, the bigger the problem gets. Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles are examples of this approach and how well it works.

    Homeless encampments should be cleaned out every week and each one shoud be visited by police officers with drug sniffing dogs every day.

  6. fed up with Dallas County

    “Office of Homeless Solutions (OHS) Director Christine Crossley reported that HART closed 143 service requests within 10 days since the initiative was launched in December.”

    This tactic allows the City to claim they did something when all they do is close open tickets to improve their metrics. To the worthless managers in City departments this provides “results.”


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