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Dallas County & City Leaders Propose Partnership To Fight Homelessness

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A proposed partnership between the City of Dallas and Dallas County looks to provide more oversight for spending on homelessness, while also looking to cull more funding sources for an issue that hits taxpayers in the pocketbook in unusual ways.

“I’m going to commit a crime on purpose,” insists Robert Ceccarelli.

Ceccarelli has been homeless, off and on, for the past 20 years.

Now, he has what he believes is a simple solution for being without a home – find one in jail.

“I go to jail on purpose,” says Ceccarelli, “I’ve done it four times already and I’m going to do it again next week to get off the streets.”

“I’m going to commit a crime on purpose,” insists Robert Ceccarelli.

Whether it is the county jail, or the county hospital, Ceccarelli is the proud poster child for Dallas’ costly and complicated relationship with homelessness.

He plans to commit a crime that will land him in jail when his temporary housing ends in a couple of weeks.

Now, he has mixed emotions about a proposed city/county plan called “The Dallas Area Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness.”

The agency will be governed by a board and also advocate for long-term solutions.

“What the city council is doing about permanent supportive housing, it’s five years down the road,” says Ceccarelli, “I can’t wait for that.”

The Dallas City Council was briefed on the proposed partnership today.  Stakeholders say oversight is good—but, taxpayers need to understand that homelessness is more complicated than just clearing away roadside camps.

“In Dallas, poverty is at 25%,” says Sam Merten, Chief Operating Officer of the Bridge, Dallas’ city owned homeless shelter.  “So when you’ve got basically the population of Plano living inside Dallas that are below the federal poverty line, you’ve really got a non-stop stream of people falling into homelessness that are just one paycheck away. We could find housing literally today for every single person that needs it… and tomorrow we’d have more need.”

And then there’s Robert Ceccarelli.  “I’m getting very desperate.”

Ceccarelli says he doesn’t want to hurt anyone, so he’s planning to let a state jail felony for shoplifting pay his room and board at the county jail. “I can’t take it anymore.”

(©2017 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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