Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Dallas city leaders plan to help homeless
The Dallas City Council plans to create 700 additional units of permanent supportive housing within the next five years.
You have seen his high rise residential buildings throughout Dallas’ skyline. Turning buildings from old downtown spaces to urban apartments and hotels is Larry Hamilton’s trade. Now, the Dallas developer has a new group of downtown guests in mind. He hopes these guests can have a more extended stay.
“I would love to start addressing this need,” said Dallas developer Larry Hamilton. “I mean it’s the number one thing that’s the matter, in my opinion, with downtown Dallas as far as the quality of life issue.”
Quality of life for the homeless is what Hamilton has been thinking about. It’s nothing new on Dallas’ agenda, but creating efficient living for these individuals is a work in progress.
“There’s a lot of things that we’re lacking,” said Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert’s Deputy Chief of Staff Paula Blackmon. “This is a new issue for Dallas. I mean we’ve always had a homeless problem, but just recently we came up with a plan.”
The plan stems from a goal set by Dallas City Council to create 700 additional units of permanent supportive housing within the next five years. The city already has 800 units of permanent supportive housing with two more projects in the works.
However, it’s in Seattle that Hamilton invited Dallas city leaders to hit the streets where homeless advocates there say downtown permanent supportive housing virtually blends in. Seattle’s approach to downtown homeless living is, "work with what you’ve got." Some of the city’s facilities include emergency services.
Mike Faenza, president and chief executive officer of Dallas’ largest homeless shelter The Bridge, took the trip to Seattle. He says the idea is to include some of Dallas’ permanent supportive housing plans downtown would be a good fit.
“I think there’s great opportunity in the city looking hard at how can we take hold of that property and refurbish it,” said Faenza.
Hamilton must secure approval from potential neighboring communities along with additional stating funding, but if urban homeless housing is a success in downtown Dallas, the cost of homeless emergency response could be cut by nearly a third. Hamilton will join the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance and the Dallas Housing Authority early next year to present the complete permanent supportive housing outline to Dallas City Council.
“A lot of people are attracted to the urban lifestyle, but the grittiness of it is a detriment,” said Hamilton. “We need to remove that, and if I can start helping to address that problem, I would love to do it.
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