Poll | Dallas Citizens: Panhandling Is a ‘Serious Problem’

A woman panhandles | Image by Jason Ogulnik/Shutterstock

The majority of Dallas residents continue to consider the abundance of homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling a serious issue in the city, suggests a recent poll by The Dallas Express.

Over 52% of respondents answered “yes” when asked if “homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling are serious problems in Dallas.” Inversely, only 29% answered “no,” and roughly 18% disclosed that they were unsure.

When this poll was conducted in December, 63% of all residents indicated that they believed the issue to be a severe problem, and only 19% disagreed. The percentage of people who did not know what they thought stayed the same.

In January’s survey, however, the group that considered homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling to be the most serious were self-identified centrists. Over 62% of those respondents thought the problem was serious, while only 28% did not.

Following that group were those self-identifying as “center-left,” with 52% believing those issues to be problematic. Only 19% of this demographic did not have that conviction.

“Center-right” came next, with 50% thinking these issues represent a major obstacle for Dallas. Nearly 35% did not, however, and 15% were undecided on the matter.

Interestingly, the two groups with the smallest amount of people considering homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling to be problematic were the “far left” and “far right.” Nevertheless, a plurality of both demographics still considered the issues to be serious.

Of respondents self-identifying as “far left,” 43% thought the issue was serious, while 26% disagreed. Over 30%, however, were unsure.

Amongst those who self-identified as “far right,” only 13% of respondents were unsure, with the rest split nearly down the middle. Almost 47% considered homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling big issues, while 40% rejected the premise.

Currently, the City of Dallas has sought to combat these issues through programs costing tens of millions of taxpayer dollars with limited results. Additionally, the City has instructed residents not to give money to panhandlers and recently passed an ordinance fining people who loiter on street medians.

In 2022, a survey of residents in downtown Dallas suggested the issue was even more urgent, with 76% of respondents complaining that homelessness was a serious problem. Mayor Eric Johnson noted in his State of the City address that combating the “scourge of homelessness” would be one of his top priorities.

Safety issues resulting from the homeless and vagrant populations have also prompted increased concerns. Last year, nearly 5,000 people believed to be homeless were arrested in Dallas County, as reported by The Dallas Express.

Business owners have hired private security in some cases to provide more safety for customers, with one entrepreneur, Nick Karr, suggesting to The Dallas Express, “The City really is not taking care of these people and is forcing us to deal with it.”

However, whistleblowers from the Highland Park Police Department have allegedly claimed that they have been told not to enforce laws against the homeless and vagrants, according to a recent report in The Dallas Express.

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  1. R Reason

    Nothing like gossip and self-serving polls to assist in oppressing the homeless and poor. I’m giving my DX news donation to Dallas panhandlers this year in order to offset this cruel misuse of power.

  2. Bobbie

    Giving a place to live will not help. A 90 day living facility with medical treatment would be helpful. Many things of this nature should be evaluated. Calif has proven giving needles and drugs only contributes to the homeless.

  3. E H

    Stop feeding stray animals and they soon go away. Same with these panhandlers. If you continue to giving them money because you feel sorry for them, you will only encourage them to continue begging on the streets and accosting the rest of us. The panhandlers are often alcoholics and/or drug-addicted with extensive criminal records and will only spend the money on more drugs. Some are even mentally-ill.

  4. RiverKing

    Once saw a panhandler at the corner of Forest Lane and Plano Road who was younger than me, fatter than me (and that’s saying a lot), dressed better than me, and was sitting on a folding camp stool on the narrow medial strip . . . with a flashing HELP WANTED sign at the quick oil change business on the corner.

    ‘nough said?

  5. Mike stapell

    I was the source.

    I addressed Dallas City Council Jan 25th Here is what I said

    Let’s start out with the premise that what we are doing now is not working. We have undesirable looking homeless camps all over this city. The city will clean up a camp only to have those inhabitants return again and again. The guy under Central Expressway at Forest is forced to move again and again, He is advised to take his things and leave or lose them. While living under Central Expressway he has no access to bathrooms; he has no access to showers or laundry facilities; and he may or maybe not get someone to come by and offer assistance of some kind. When he asks The Dept of Homeless Solutions where can I go? They don’t have an answer, for these are the most difficult cases! If he wants to retain his possessions or a pet, the shelters won’t work for him. If he leaves that intersection, he is subject to losing all his worldly possessions through theft or the city cleaning things up. In short he is not being served as a citizen of Dallas.

    The remedy to unsightly homeless camps is homeless camps that are designated, and serviced by the city of Dallas. We need 14 of them one for each council member district. A city sanctioned camp will have hot and cold running water; electricity and internet access. They need to have a community center where the homeless can receive services and counseling to be pointed in the direction of mental illness treatment and drug rehabilitation. A community center that has kitchen facilities, full bathroom facilities with showers, and laundry facilities. These camps should have sanitation services every week just like I get in the back of my house.

    Once these city designated camps are set up, then it will be easier to move camps from underneath bridges and highway right of ways. Outreach will be easier with 14 locations instead of 300. Real assistance can take place and trust can be built in a community setting.

    Homeward Bound runs a diversion center that points clients in the right direction for services; the only problem is that like many city services it’s not scaled to meet demand. With 14 City of Dallas sanctioned homeless camps we can also have 14 more diversion centers bringing us close to meeting that need.

    My vision is for this to be temporary, with facilities that are all portable as this is an experiment that’s totally unproven. If it fails to meet community acceptance, it can all be taken down quickly and easily. By utilizing shipping containers as visual barriers and storage facilities, and using portable buildings with all utilities above ground these camps can be stood up quickly with less red tape. The goal here is to serve those not being served, the difficult cases that are more entrenched that obviously need more help. Think of being able to help the most individuals just by having them present. Social services wouldn’t need to go looking for them.

    Those living in a city sanctioned homeless camp will feel more secure knowing they won’t be forced to move and won’t be losing their only possessions. They will have access to services that they would otherwise have to go find. The city will be able to institute a no tolerance policy regarding renegade camps since they will now have some place to go. We will no longer see our bridges and underpasses filled with tents, sleeping bags; shopping carts and filth. Win Win Win

    • Janet

      I say, GO FOR IT!!


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