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Downtown Dallas Homeless Plans Continue To Take Heat

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Two proposed homeless housing projects are drawing fire at the Farmers Market because of the people business owners worry will be attracted to them.

“I have people that come onto my property that litter, leave a lot of drug paraphernalia out,” said business owner Jim Ingendorf.

He and his wife worry a plan to put two more housing units for the homeless nearby will make matters worse.

“The police are there on and off throughout the day,” said wife Leslie Ingendorft.

She and other opponents of the homeless housing plans donned red tee shirts last week and urged the City Council to block the proposals, but were turned down.

Developers need the blessing from the city on the homeless issue in order to qualify for millions of dollars in taxpayer money to get the developments off the ground.

Developers offer two different approaches.

An owner of real estate firm the Hamilton Properties Corporation said they’re targeting the long-term homeless in what’s known as a ‘housing first’ philosophy, which has found success in New York City and Portland, Ore.

That method would immediately move the homeless into residences, rather than slowly acclimate them to life off the street.

The other, from First Presbyterian Church in Dallas, wants to focus on homeless families.

Last week during the City Council meeting, Rev. Dr. Bruce Buchanan said the church has numerous downtown outreach programs.

“We are invested here, we are invested in the lives of our children and youth who are at risk and we want to change their futures,” he said.

It would partner with the Family Gateway Program next door, and its executive director Rob Alberts told the Council, “The need for homeless shelters and services in Dallas is growing. The fastest growing population of the homeless are families. I can’t emphasize enough; it’s families and it’s children.”

But businesses around the Farmers Market aren’t necessarily buying the argument, according to spokeswoman Tanya Ragan.

“They’ve got to get the situation with The Bridge, with the crime and safety issue under control before any other facilities are brought to the area,” she said. “There’s no background checks, we have severe crime in the area and when we talk to the City Council, everyone knows there’s a problem, so why move on with these other facilities if you do not have the current situation under control?”

Late Monday, the association and the church were meeting to determine if they could find some middle ground in the project for homeless families.

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