FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Despite protests, the Fort Worth City Council is allowing a homeless shelter to expand.
Some residents and business owners are frustrated, saying they feel as if they’re baring the brunt of housing the city’s homeless population since the vast majority of the city’s displaced live in their area.
Currently the Union Gospel Mission has plans to tear down their current women and children’s shelter and build a new center at a cost of more then $8 million. Mission officials say they have to build where there is the greatest need.
There are so many shelters on and around Lancaster Avenue that the street has become a collection point for most of the city’s homeless. People who live in the area say it’s not safe for women and children, and something needs to be done.
Kathryn Kroll, with the Brentwood Oak Hills Neighborhood Association, said, “We don’t want any of the homeless, any of the women to live in an environment where you are scared to go outside and take a walk down the street on a pretty day.”
The fight over whether to add more homeless shelters in east Fort Worth points to a bigger problem. The city’s homeless plan — called Directions Home — wasn’t supposed to centralize homeless care. The goal of the plan was to spread homeless housing across the city.
According to the District 8 city council office, 80-percent of Fort Worth’s homeless now reside in east Fort Worth.
East Fort Worth resident Mike Phipps has a unique perspective on the homeless situation. Phipps says he was once homeless himself, but he’s now trying to protect the value of the home he worked so hard to purchase.
“It’s [homelessness] a huge east Fort Worth issue. When it comes to the value of the homes, my home itself has decreased 30-perssent just in the last few years,” he said. “That’s disheartening. That’s my investment and I’m losing it.”
Don Shisler, the Union Gospel Mission president and chief executive officer, said, “The purpose of this is simple, it’s simply to take care of the need that’s already there and in a responsive way.”
City leaders say its clear they need to rethink how and where the homeless are cared for in Fort Worth.
This really does make us realize that we’ve got to take a look at Directions Home, our plan to end homeless,” admitted Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. “But we’ve got to build affordable housing in all areas — sustainable housing that can shared and despersed out in all areas.”
The Union Gospel Mission currently has two shelters, one for men and one strictly for women and children. Expansion of the female facility would mean it would go from a capacity of 32 people to 110.
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