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Dallas Approves Facility For Chronically Homeless

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
Bud is the most veteran reporter at CBS 11 News with 42 years in m...
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Dallas City Council has voted to go ahead with its part of an ambitious housing plan for the chronically homeless.

The city is partnering with several local foundations to create 50 cottages and homeless support services.

“It is the first step in the way back,” Dallas City Councilwoman Vonciel Jones Hill said of the project. “If you don’t have a closet to hang your suit in you can’t even think about going to look for a job.”

So, without a single dissenting voice, council members voted to support The Cottages at Hickory Crossing. The property is slated to be small, 430-square foot homes, along with offices for support services for people who are chronically homeless due to mental illness, substance abuse, or with criminal histories.

The city is helping secure the land while agencies such as the Caruth and Meadows Foundations will help raise the estimated $5.5 million needed to finish and run the program.

Besides cottages for the chronically homeless there are plans for a series of buildings to be built, on vacant property across the street that will house with medical support facilities for the homeless.

Some neighbors, like the family-owned Merendino Service Station, welcome the development. “Something needs to be built around here. I mean, the city keeps tearing down everything,” said businessman Billy Merendino.

The cottages are the type of place Patricia Bass and James Smith said they’d like. A CBS 11 News crew found them voluntarily picking up trash in the area. They said they were doing it just to make a difference.

“[I’m doing it] for the community,” said Smith. “It’s a good need. Let people know everybody is different!”

Bass agreed saying, “All homeless people are not like this [lazy]. Some of us are totally different. Some of us have a heart.”

While the pair said they would jump at the chance to move into the property, the cottages project is still months away from completion.

Supporters believe the program will pay for itself in reducing relapses among criminals and will also help control medical costs by getting preventative care to the chronically homeless.

The City of Dallas has hopes of building some 700 supportive housing units for the chronically homeless by 2014.

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