Encampment Enforcement Bill Filed in Senate

Homeless encampments | Image by Joshua Rainey Photography

A bill was filed in the Texas Senate last month that would allow the state to hold cities, including Dallas, accountable for not enforcing laws against public encampments.

Numerous homeless and vagrant encampments are scattered across Dallas, despite the Office of Homeless Solutions’ (OHS) frequent attempts to “clean” encampments throughout the city.

Council Member Cara Mendelsohn has recently argued that the City is “not doing enforcement that’s necessary” when it comes to addressing homelessness.

Public encampments are prohibited under Texas law. Other large Texas cities such as Austin and Houston are also facing crises of homelessness and vagrancy amid apparently lax enforcement.

Senate Bill 2018, filed in the legislature on March 9 by Sen. Pete Flores (R-Pleasanton), would compel local entities to enforce state law regarding homeless encampments.

The bill prohibits local governments from “adopt[ing] or enforc[ing] a policy … [which] prohibits or discourages the enforcement of any public camping ban.”

A companion bill was introduced in the Texas House by Rep. Cole Hefner (R-Mount Pleasant).

“It’s a shame that any city in the state of Texas would … [require] action from the state level just to get City leadership to do their job,” Jake Colglazier of Keep Dallas Safe told The Dallas Express. “However, clearly it is necessary that these people be held accountable. … I fully support the state’s attempts to reign these people in.”

Colglazier said that whether this legislation is adopted “depends on how much the people in Texas push for it.”

“Republicans in the House and Senate have proven that they really don’t care very much about passing this sort of thing that actually benefits the people of Texas,” he explained, noting that “instances where they have done something like that” came after persistent calls from the people of Texas.

Colglazier noted constitutional carry and the heartbeat bill as examples.

“There’s a much greater chance of it passing if the people of Texas are aware of it and they push their representatives and senators to vote in favor,” he told The Dallas Express, while also encouraging people “to pay attention to what’s going on at the city level.”

“There is a city council race coming up in May,” he noted. “They have the power to make things change, but the current city council is not interested in that.”

Colglazier said “there’s a big problem with rogue prosecutors” such as Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot who refuse to prosecute crimes while judges let “people go on reduced bail.”

“This is contributing very heavily to the rise of crime we see across the country,” he explained.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the City of Dallas has allegedly directed Dallas police not to enforce laws against local vagrants and homeless people, contributing to the rising crisis of homelessness and vagrancy throughout the city.

A recent survey conducted by The Dallas Express found that the majority of Dallas County residents likely to vote in municipal elections view homelessness and vagrancy as serious problems.

Additional polling from Downtown Dallas Inc. has found that more than 75% of downtown residents believe that “homelessness is a significant issue.”

These figures persist despite the fact that the City spends millions in taxpayer money responding to homelessness and vagrancy every year.

One approach favored by many Dallas residents is that successfully modeled by Haven for Hope in San Antonio, a one-stop shop for homelessness that provides services in a contained geographic area.

The Dallas Express reached out to the office of Sen. Pete Flores for additional information or comment but did not receive a response by the publication deadline.

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  1. PMac

    It seems like no one, but Cara is interested in solving the homeless problem. The rest of the city Council would rather just keep throwing money down a dark hole or is it in somebody’s pocket? It is Dallas after all.

    • L.B.

      We are a very corrupt city. We pay so much in taxes and it is supposed to fund the police and schools! Look at our schools!!!! Look at our homeless!!! Look at our Police!!! Look at Dallas!!! It is a joke and one of the worst ran cities I have ever lived in and I’m from here. The property taxes are insane, I would rather pay state taxes, it would be cheaper!!!!

  2. Bill

    There are reasons why things aren’t going well in cities like Dallas, Houston etc. We dont enforce the laws on the books. A shame the state has to force a city like Dallas to do its job.

  3. Bob Burns

    Add this FAILURE of our City Council to handle our city’s business to the long lists of others.

    How many reasons do we need to GET OUT AND VOTE?

    Please call your neighbors, friends, family and church members and ask them to pass on the message to change the Dallas City Council by replacing the current status quo group.

    Our beautiful city is turning to a lawless sanctuary city. It is happening right before our eyes as our city budget continues to grow and our citizens foot the bill as businesses relocate to the suburbs.

    We need to elect people with business savvy, common sense, collaborative skills and who LISTEN and react to their constituents.

    WE can make a difference by voting away the APATHETIC label that our current leaders rely on to stay in power.

    We need to hold our leaders accountable for allowing CRIME to go up, TAXES and the BUDGET to go up and CITY SERVICES to go down.

    Please VOTE for CHANGE!!!

  4. Lay Monk Jeffery

    Survey says, Dallas is a filthy rat hole of a city with tent cities within popping up everywhere and nothing is being done about it!

    The city I call home, born and raised and now ashamed.

    Where are the millions of dollars going? Apparently not where it should! My neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods are surrounded by homelessness.
    You know, the situation, it’s sad, but what’s sadder is the fact that nothing is being done. These homeless people need to understand they must obey laws like everyone else. They can not pop a tent up on any corner, drop trash where they stand and not drop trowel in public. If they are with mental issues they can be a harm to others and themselves. I understand the situation is a double edged sword but there needs to be action of some sort. We are being surrounded by filth and it needs to get cleaned up before everyone starts putting for sale signs up in there lawns and start leave this city. I myself and seriously thinking about selling and so are some of my neighbors, all because the city is constantly failing at their duties.
    As for City Hall, do your job and use the allotted funds the correct way, to its fullest and clean our city up before we all leave and you are stuck with a Detroit!

    It’s stupid and it’s ridiculous that we are even at this point. If city hall was doing their job from the beginning we would not be with these issues.

    Maybe the cleaning should start in city hall? Get some appointed officials that will be proactive and will get our once beautiful city back where it should be.

    So clean our city up please!

    • Bob Burns

      Another reason to replace all City Council incumbents.

      Please VOTE for change.

  5. Mary P

    People tend to forget Dallas had a One Stop Shop for homeless people in the 1980’s. It was call the Day Resource Center. Medical, Social, Psychiatry, Veteran resources, referral for dental, vision, transportation and housing were all available. I worked with the Medical team for 5 years. It was dissolved sometime after I left. I don’t know why

  6. RiverKing

    Holding cities responsible is not the solution; holding mayors, DAs, and city managers PERSONALLY responsible will get action.


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