North Texas Daily

DFW should follow Austin’s lead in combating homelessness

DFW should follow Austin’s lead in combating homelessness

DFW should follow Austin’s lead in combating homelessness
May 28
12:00 2021

As the DFW area continues to grow and make room for incoming homeowners, city officials should be mindful of the homeless community already populating the area and seek to create permanent housing solutions for them. There were 3,722 people who reported experiencing homelessness, 1,153 identifying as being completely unsheltered, according to a 2019 Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance data survey. Additionally, Dallas and Collin County boast a total of nearly 5,000 people struggling with shelter stability.

This data is incredibly disheartening and provides a glimpse into the growing homelessness issue in the DFW, which has been on a steady, alarming rise since 2017. Homelessness is not an issue that can be swept under the rug and those dealing with the heavy burden of seeking shelter deserve an adequate solution from the city officials set to govern them.

Of course, homelessness is not a DFW-specific issue, but local government officials can and need to do a much better job of providing for those in the region without shelter. In fact, they have to look no further than their state capital counterpart Austin to find a serviceable plan to combat homelessness in the area.

Earlier this year, the city of Austin approved a $9.5 million plan to convert a Candlewood Suites Hotel into a permanent home for those without shelter in the area. After listing homelessness as its top priority last year, the Austin city council moved quickly to reduce it, purchasing the hotel in February with the intent of renovating it to provide stable housing for the homeless.

This gesture by the city of Austin highlights their compassion and empathy towards their homeless community and takes it one step further by complementing their concern with a legitimate solution.

“This housing saves lives,” council member Greg Casar said following the announcement. “It will help us get hundreds of people out of tents and into housing. We all have to pull together as a city to address homelessness, and that’s why we’ve purchased hotels in four districts now, including my own. These hotels will not only be homes for people but will also provide services like job aid, health care, mental health resources and more.”

Providing housing, job aid, health care and mental health services is something Dallas should emulate as well. A large percentage of homeless people struggle with various mental health illnesses, so it is encouraging to see the city make plans to address this issue. Providing mental health resources, in addition to housing, would go a long way towards not only stabilizing homeless citizens but reestablish them into society as well.

Sadly, this issue is not an overnight fix. With a strong, collective effort from local government officials, though, the DFW area could put a serious dent in and finally oversee the decrease of homelessness in the area.

Compassion is the only way forward and stabilizing those struggling with housing would make us a stronger community as a whole. I know the famous saying cites that “Everything is bigger in Texas,” but let’s ensure that homelessness is not one of them.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Jalyn Smoot

Jalyn Smoot

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