Numerous mistakes have come to light in Dallas City Hall’s effort to establish a facility for the homeless and vagrants in Oak Cliff.
The City plans to convert the former University General Hospital into a “homeless services” center, but as previously reported by The Dallas Express, many local residents have voiced opposition to this plan as the location is directly across the street from Jimmie Tyler Brashear Elementary School and Kiest Park.
Residents were frustrated with the City for its lack of communication regarding the project. Now, even more mistakes have been revealed.
After the city council purchased the site, a community workgroup was formed to advise city officials regarding the project. Workgroup member Darryl Barker said he was disappointed with the process.
“Compared to other neighborhoods in Dallas, we received neither equity nor respect from staff, our councilmember (Casey Thomas), or City Manager T.C. Broadnax,” he said.
Even County Commissioner Elba Garcia, whose district includes this part of Oak Cliff, said she believes this is the wrong location for a homeless facility.
“My recommendation for the property has been affordable single-family housing for sale, keeping some units for women with children,” she said.
While the location sits directly across from Brashear Elementary, the city government has yet to consult with Dallas Independent School District (DISD).
Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said she needs to be more informed about the proposed project and emphasized DISD’s responsibility to serve their students and be “equally committed to their safety and well-being.”
The site of the project is located in District 3, represented by Councilmember Casey Thomas. Most of the advisors in the community workgroup were picked by Thomas, who chairs the City’s Housing and Homelessness Solutions Committee.
Members of the advisory group allegedly said the frustrating reality of the project was not what they expected.
“The group didn’t have a clear target with a clear direction, and it didn’t feel empowered,” said Paul Carden, workgroup member and vice president of neighborhood development for Heritage Oak Cliff. “Without both the target and power, that doesn’t get you anywhere.”
Cathy Lauer is another workgroup member who lives about a mile away from the proposed homeless facility. She claimed constructive ideas suggested by the workgroup were dismissed as premature by city staff.
“My reaction was that I thought this was exactly what you guys wanted — to help you craft how this property could work,” she said. “As the meetings proceeded, I began to feel it was a bit of a window-dressing exercise. We haven’t offered any advice, certainly none that’s been accepted.”
Christina Bristow resigned from the workgroup on October 13 due to “constant inconsistencies” with the office of homeless solutions and others in the city government.
Bristow said city staff consistently answered questions by saying, “We do not know at this time,” rather than providing a substantive answer.
Councilmember Thomas believes that some members of the workgroup, including those appointed by him, were determined to stop the development of the facility.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t find out until later that some of the members of the workgroup — that’s what they were there to do,” he said.
Before the community meeting on October 27, Thomas met with city staff to lay out four new ideas for whom the shelter could serve: victims of sex trafficking, women fleeing domestic violence, senior citizens, and single parents with minor children.
This flabbergasted many workgroup members who had, for months, suggested that the facility serve other populations, only for those suggestions to be rejected by city staff.
During the meeting, local residents expressed their frustrations with the project directly to Thomas, Broadnax, and others from City Hall, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
Workgroup members said they had heard nothing since the meeting, but Thomas still expects recommendations from them, which he will present to the Housing and Homelessness Solutions Committee.
Following public complaints, Thomas said he prefers the site now be used for either formerly homeless senior citizens or single women with children.
He added that communication with local neighbors was the workgroup’s responsibility, not the City’s, but workgroup members said it was difficult considering they had little information themselves.
As reported by The Dallas Express, residents spoke out against the proposed facility during a Dallas ISD meeting on November 17.
“We’re on the workforce group,” Bristow told The Dallas Express. “And we’ve been opposed to this from day one.”
This points to a total lack of process within the city of Dallas to do ANYTHING!!
This lack of process does not seem to be isolated to just this decision/project. It is systemic across everything Dallas appears to TRY and do.
When we don’t vote or hold politicians accountable, this is what we get.
Politicians never build these projects next to their homes. They know only 10-15 people will come out. Hold your city council and school board representatives accountable. Go door to door and let the neighbors know what’s going on. Crooks and thieves will prey on the elderly and children. Minorities always get these project especially the poor.
When do we stop complaining, VOTE these people out. Hold the superintendent accountable. She probably has never seen the Site.
You are correct, Ms. Williams about not voting.
In this case, The DISD was left out of this process by the City of Dallas, but since our actions as the Work Group, the school board trustee, and the PTA are well aware of the project and have made their feelings known.
Our goal as a community is to STOP this project at THIS LOCATION and to restart the process with a Community Engagement process that is fair, timely, transparent, and INCLUSIVE of ALL stakeholders.
The problem is trying to please EVERYONE. Maybe they should give out ice cream, but someone would complain about that too.
SADLY, you are correct.
We hope to RESTART this process using the points YOU noted.
Please add to your report that two other Homeless facilities in the north were brought to the community BEFORE any decisions were made by City Hall.
Extensive, timely, and transparent Community Engagement happened ON THE FRONT END of the process THERE, but NOT HERE in our Southern Sector neighborhood.
AFTER the Community Engagement process occurred in North Dallas, neighborhoods decided that it was OK to build one facility and NOT OK to build the other. We have been ROBBED of that piece of EQUITY, WE HAVE NOT BEEN INCLUDED.
Keep in mind that when EVEN YOUR OWN HAND SELECTED workgroup REVOLTS, the problem is not the workgroup.
Leftists destroy everything they touch. We use to treat the mentally ill in the USA, NOW THE LEFT STEALS VOTES & PUTS THEM INTO OFFICE
It was Rush Limbaugh who opined that as a liberal leader “the greater the failure you are, the higher your standing among your peers.” This is the City of Dallas operating system. Yes, Dallas destroys everything it touches and they’re proud of it. Recall Casey Thomas.
This will only make the area more impoverished. It is in the best shape, (still not good) it’s been in years, and this would only be a setback for the community. I live less than a mile away and I say no
I attended the meeting at Kiest Park, and what was MOST disappointing with was that officials were asked if there had been a feasability study done before the purchase. The answer given according to that printout was that staff THOUGHT there had been one, but there was none completed. Sounds like somebody is not doing their job. They were also touting the facility for 100+ residents, but there are other buildings, and they talked of people being bused in and out for that. These council members who agreed for this purchase using money for homeless are not showing good judgment. I hope they do a better job with other city finances. West touted the success of the Miramar in his district (which I might add is near a freeway, not a school, library, nature preserve and park). Later in the meeting a member of the audience brought up the fact, there is no one living there at the moment??? Quite a success?
Based on past history and those in the Dallas City Council who have previously served jail time we cannot overlook the potential of criminal behavior on the part of Mr. Casey Thomas. Why is he so h*11 bent on pushing this through?
The suggestion by him and city staff that this site would be used for battered women, or sexually-trafficked women and children, is idiocy on display. What competent organization for these clients advertises its’ location? The answer is none.
This is a “deal” for Mr. Thomas and we need to dig into him and his financial involvement deeply. This does not pass the legitimacy smell test. What’s his motivation?