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Nearly 5,000 Homeless, Vagrants Arrested

City

Man sits in a chair near tents used by homeless in Dallas. | Image by FOX 4

Nearly 5,000 homeless and vagrant people were arrested across Dallas County in 2022, according to the county jail population dashboard.

This number had increased by almost 1,000 from 2020 when fewer than 4,000 people were arrested. In 2021, a total of 4,313 homeless and vagrants were brought to the county jail.

For last year, men represented nearly 81% of homeless or vagrant suspects brought in by police, while women only made up around 19% of the total. Over 71% of vagrants and homeless people arrested were listed as having suspected mental health issues, while 29% were not.

The average length of stay in the county jail for homeless and vagrants was 45 days.

The most common reasons for which homeless and vagrant people were incarcerated included alleged drug/alcohol use (1,069), criminal trespass (824), and assaultive offenses (556).

An assaultive offense refers to a wide array of incidents, including causing “bodily injury to another” and when someone “intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury.”

Additionally, 12 murders were reportedly attributed to homeless or vagrant suspects.

Other common incidents reported include 348 thefts, 223 burglaries, 133 criminal mischief events, 115 robberies, 72 sexual offenses, and 16 occasions of prostitution.

In some parts of the city, business owners have chosen to hire private security to protect their property and customers from potentially aggressive vagrants, as reported by The Dallas Express.

Mayor Eric Johnson recently identified that fixing the “scourge of homelessness” would be an ongoing priority for his administration.

“Dallas is a city of love and empathy,” Johnson explained. “But we’re also a city that cares about health and safety and respects our residents who simply want to walk to work or into one of our public libraries without being accosted and without fear.”

A survey by Dallas Downtown Inc. found that 76% of downtown residents felt that “homelessness is a significant issue” and compared the situation in Dallas to places like Austin, Houston, Chicago, and New York City.

Although the city’s Office of Homeless Solutions (OHS) has made some efforts to address the issue through a variety of measures, a recent poll conducted by The Dallas Express found that 63% of people city-wide believed that “homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling” continued to cause “serious problems in Dallas.”

Some new initiatives by OHS included a strengthened Homeless Action Response Team (HART) program, which will deploy squads including marshals, code officers, and crisis intervention specialists to homeless or vagrants incidents “presenting an immediate safety concern.”

On the other hand, OHS has also begun a “porta-potty initiative,” which will cost Dallas taxpayers an estimated $105,000 per year for a scant seven toilet installations across the city.

Randy Williams, a South Dallas resident, complained to The Dallas Express that “it seems the City is more willing to encourage homelessness than fight it,” suggesting that the government programs have not only failed to address the issue, but potentially exacerbated it.

Several homeless and vagrant people have suggested that Dallas is considered a destination, with Lewis Brady explaining, “this isn’t a bad city to be homeless in. We are tolerated and pretty much left alone.”

In an apparent attempt to alter that impression, the City of Dallas has asked residents to not give money to panhandlers on the street, suggesting that “Giving spare change without offering support could make matters worse.”

Recently, the City Council passed a new regulation fining people standing on street medians up to $500, as reported by The Dallas Express.

Furthermore, recent developments have suggested that a different approach from the one currently taken by City authorities may yield better results.

In fact, some of the homeless and vagrant people in Dallas even favor a “one-stop” solution for services similar to the Haven for Hope organization in San Antonio as opposed to the “housing first” model, which does not address the root causes of homelessness and vagrancy.

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Betsy Whitfill
Betsy Whitfill
21 days ago

A city of compassion doesn’t enable homelessness and vagrancy…two conditions that breed inhumanity. So let’s give up that glamour and follow the lead of San Antonio’s Haven for Hope. Let’s start right now. If that isn’t Mayor Johnson’s aim, let’s find a leader who will make it the #1 priority.

MacKenzie
MacKenzie
21 days ago

Exactly how are homeless panhandlers supposed to afford a $500 fine? They can’t. That’s why they’re panhandling. Fining people who can’t afford to pay the fines isn’t a solution to a countrywide problem.

The City of Dallas is more concerned with appearances than with actually helping people, which is clear by the number of arrests. Putting people in jail for being unhoused, addicted, and mentally ill isn’t actually a solution to homelessness and will, in fact, make the problem even worse when these offenders are released and once again have nowhere to go so oops they’re STILL HOMELESS. I get so freaking tired of how we treat unhoused people.

Lanie
Lanie
21 days ago

Why are the tax payers having to pay $105,000 for seven toilets (who came up with this cost?) when it’s the City’s problem to solve? The City needs to come up with a solution for homelessness and the money should come out of their budget and not from the tax payers.

Anna Williams
Anna Williams
Reply to  Lanie
21 days ago

Who’s pocket is $105,000 coming out of , if it’s not tax payer’s .

I would rather have a port a potty, then the homeless pissing on the streets. The smell is horrible, I worked Downtown for 15 years.

Another stupid issue, where will the homeless get $500. to pay a fine. They will knock people in the head. We need to start
vetting these politicians, some of them are as bad as the homeless. They have their hand out to get millions from donors. What’s the difference?

E.M. Riegel
E.M. Riegel
21 days ago

That $500. fine will teach people, I personally think that’s a stupid idea.

Anna Williams
Anna Williams
Reply to  E.M. Riegel
21 days ago

Amen!

Bob burns
Bob burns
21 days ago

How about reporting and fining via license plate anyone giving donations directly to the person in the median?
Maybe those fines can be used to help SOLVE this issue.
FYI, when you arrest the John’s, prostitution decreases.

Bob Weir
Bob Weir
21 days ago

Until the government makes it a crime to live on the street, the homeless population with continue to increase and will spread to every small town in the country. When they start living on the lawns of homeowners in the suburbs and rural areas, people will finally start to demand penalties for those who, up to now, have been able to block sidewalks, defecate on the street, and violently attack passers by. A problem doesn’t go away until you do something to solve it. In this case, harsh measures are necessary if we are to demonstrate that the public has had enough of this disease-spreading group of non-conformists!

Ronald Reason
Ronald Reason
Reply to  Bob Weir
19 days ago

Harsh measures? Because, they aren’t suffering enough? Besides, I thought it was a crime, for over a year now.

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.48.htm#48.05

RonaldB
RonaldB
Reply to  Bob Weir
17 days ago

Mentally ill people who could not care for themselves were institutionalized until Reagan, in one of the stupid acts of his Presidency (there were many) declared “community treatment”. In other words, the people being cared for in institutions were thrown out on the street to fend for themselves.

A mentally ill person able to fend for himself without becoming a nuisance should not be forced into a place he doesn’t want to go. But, when people become nuisances or unable to take care of themselves, we should resume involuntary institutionalization in state hospitals, with legal due process and examination by a judge.

J S
J S
21 days ago

Maybe just maybe if we’d be offered real help and resources instead of being treated as sub human by government as society this wouldn’t all be such an issue. However our government has decided poor and homeless are enemy number one along with a few other undesirable groups. As such a democide has begun against the more vulnerable and hated group. The homeless and poor. After all look at the ignorance society has towards us and the hatred not to mention of any group we have the least amount of resources (which BTW keep dwindling) and we have the largest amount of hate and ignorance facing us .

joyce
joyce
20 days ago

I disagree about Dallas being full of Love and empathy ? !

Cindy
Cindy
16 days ago

Can we please start a sign (search sign for homeless SLC) campaign like Salt Lake City that encourages people to not give to panhandlers, instead give online donations to the centers that supply the homeless with meals and housing instead. Signs are placed where panhandlers frequently stand. Why fine the panhandlers, when fining the people giving them money would actually yield a better result? This would also give the city the ability to increase the revenue earmarked for assistance for the homeless

Last edited 16 days ago by Cindy