A recent poll by The Dallas Express found that nearly 70% of Dallas residents believe their city council members are not doing enough to combat homelessness and vagrancy.
While exact data on homelessness and vagrancy is difficult to ascertain, according to the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance’s (MDHA) 2022 State of the Homeless Address, on “any given night,” there are about 4,000 individuals living on the streets of Dallas.
MDHA is a “backbone organization that leads the development of an effective homeless rehousing system” and began collecting data on Dallas area homelessness and vagrancy in 2015. Its recent data shows that, of those who exited to permanent housing destinations, 22% returned to homelessness or vagrancy within two years, up from 17% in 2019.
Another alarming local statistic MDHA found in its research is that the “chronically homeless” population — those homeless or vagrant for more than a year — effectively doubled from 2020 to 2022, which is in line with a national surge in chronic homelessness and vagrancy since 2016.
MDHA also found that the average number of days a homeless individual in Dallas is on the streets is right at 100.
Keep Dallas Safe (KDS), an organization whose mission is to transform Dallas into “the safest large city in Texas for residents and businesses,” is focused on the city’s growing homelessness and vagrancy crisis.
In email correspondence to The Dallas Express, KDS President Stephen Moitz laid blame for the continuing issue on the City’s failure to enforce the new statewide ban on so-called “urban camping,” which was passed in 2021 by state legislators to combat the rise of homeless and vagrant encampments in Texas cities.
“Each week, KDS photographs and reports over 100 illegal encampments across the city. Unfortunately, we have seen no action on the part of the city,” chided Moitz.
When asked if his organization has any allies in city government in combatting homelessness and vagrancy, Moitz remarked that Mayor Eric Johnson has “given the vagrant problem limited lip service; however, the council as a whole has done nothing to materially address the problem.”
Moitz went on to say that Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax “has been completely inept in this area.”
“The reality is: citizens wanting this issue addressed have no champion in City Hall,” stated Moitz.
With a high percentage of Dallas residents opining that their city council members are not doing enough to address this issue, Moitz believes that there is only one solution: public pressure and political engagement.
“Citizens should engage their council members on why they have failed to act,” he concluded.
The Dallas Express reached out to all the members of the Dallas City Council to discuss the poll findings regarding their approach to homelessness and vagrancy in the city. Only Councilmember Cara Mendelsohn responded, but she referred us to staff, specifically MDHA, for answers.