Critics & Supporters Clash At Dallas Homeless Commission Meeting

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ Commission on Homelessness met today and got an earful from critics. The agenda for today’s meeting had members set to discuss short-term strategies for housing medical care, funding, and a new structure and system of accountability for the commission.

During the meeting critics had harsh judgments and extreme suggestions for the commission. Among the members there was heated infighting, with some questioning others motives for being on the commission.

After the commission was criticized for inaction when it comes to tackling the homeless problem in Dallas, one member said, “If there’s a non-profit sitting around this table whose spent years working on the homeless problem, not looking for a handout, looking to try and help solve the problem… I think you’re going the wrong direction if you want to try and challenge those people’s motives. I’m offended by it.”

The commission tried to limit the number of people addressing the group to five, but more people took the microphone to express complaints and concerns. One homeless man asked the commission why nobody is doing anything about city shelters, like The Bridge, that he says are being taken over by drug dealers.

“The shelters are not a place for the homeless, it’s a safe haven for criminal activity,” he said. “At The Bridge it’s a lot of gang members, it’s a lot of people that deal drugs that have the little Bridge ID card, to go in and out [of the facility].”

James Dunn is also homeless and gave up with space at the Austin Street Shelter to tell the commission how he thinks they need to make use of vacant city- and county-owned buildings. “We need housing, specifically we need 75-percent of the old Parkland Hospital that now stands empty and we need 100-percent of the old Decker County Jail,” he said, adding, “We need them not seven or eight years from now. We need them right now.”

The Dallas Commission on Homelessness meeting was held at the downtown United Way. The public is invited to attend another meeting scheduled for October 18 from Noon to 2 p.m.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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