Recent polling by The Dallas Express revealed strong opinions among Dallas residents as to why their city shrank in the latest census while the surrounding metroplex area has experienced rapid growth.
The top two responses from those who participated in our polling were high crime rates (29.91%) and an increase in homelessness and vagrancy (27.10%). Together, over half of Dallas residents lay blame on these two issues for the city’s population decline.
Stephen Moitz, president of Keep Dallas Safe, an organization that “exists to address crime and homelessness in Dallas” and whose mission is to transform Dallas “into the safest large city in Texas,” was not surprised by these findings.
In email correspondence with The Dallas Express, Moitz said, “People want to live and work in safe cities. Given Dallas City Council’s lack of prioritization of crime, District Attorney Creuzot’s refusal to prosecute crime, and the increase in the number of vagrants, it is not surprising that Dallas’ population decreased and those concerns are reflected in your survey.”
According to Neighborhood Scout, which bills itself as “the leading all-in-one real estate market data platform,” Dallas is only safer than 5% of cities in the United States.
The site claims that an individual has a chance of becoming a victim of violent crime at nearly twice the rate in Dallas as compared to Texas as a whole. The likelihood of property crime in Dallas is 1-in-27 compared to 1-in-44 for the state as a whole.
The Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA) said in its 2022 State of the Homeless Address that “on any given night” there are more than 4,000 homeless and vagrant people on the streets of Dallas.
“The most concerning figure is the rise of the chronically homeless population from little more than 500 in 2019 and 2020 to over 1,000 in 2022,” MDHA reported. These findings are “consistent with national trends, which show a surge in chronic homelessness by more than 40% since 2016.”
Moitz argued that crime and vagrancy were actually linked, though he did not provide statistics regarding the relationship between them.
“First is a realization that the two go hand in hand. We won’t get one under control without addressing the other,” he said.
Moitz noted a lack of enforcement by the City of Dallas of the new statewide ban on so-called “urban camping,” passed by the Texas Legislature in 2021 to address the rise of vagrancy in Texas cities.
He also believes that Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot’s “refusal to prosecute crime” is a significant contributing factor to the current situation in the city.
“Dallas is at a tipping point: we either get back to being the business-friendly powerhouse that generations of Dallasites have worked so hard to become, or we degrade into the next Chicago or Portland where criminality is a commonality, homelessness has spread like a plague,” concluded Moitz.
The Dallas Express reached out to District Attorney John Creuzot for a response to the allegations made by Moitz that the D.A.’s policies have contributed to the city’s current crime rates.
“We track this data in our office and are in very frequent communication with all of our police chiefs who have not raised these concerns with our office and/or policies,” replied Claire Crouch, Media & Community Relations Manager for Creuzot’s office.
She continued, “We have met with the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, the Black Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as well as the National and State Retail Associations, and we have heard nothing from them…to suggest that any of DA Creuzot’s policies have hurt business or caused an uptick in crime in any way.”
Mayor Johnson and the members of the city council were also contacted by The Dallas Express for comment on these poll findings for this article.
Mayor Johnson’s chief of staff, Tristan Hall, responded, asking for more information about the polling itself, but declined to answer questions about the findings.
Despite contacting all members of the Dallas City Council, The Dallas Express only received a response from Councilmember Cara Mendelsohn, who referred us to MDHA for answers.