Friday, June 25, 2010

The Controversy Continues...

The issue of whether or not a permanent supportive housing program should be located in north Oak Cliff, continues to be a hot issue, that is not going away any time soon.

Larry James, our CEO wrote an op-ed piece dealing with the issue a few days ago. In it he addresses what appears to be the common backdrop against which the opposition is framed, and in doing so, he points out the solution that those of us who have studied and employed such a model as a solution to homelessness have found out across the country and here in Dallas as well.
"North Oak Cliff, I get your fears."

"I also have the solution to each and every one of them: permanent supportive housing, which wipes out the actions you are most concerned about today. At Central Dallas Ministries, we've placed more than 100 chronically homeless people in permanent housing with wrap-around services. Our results line up with reports from New York City, Seattle , Chicago, Los Angeles , San Diego and elsewhere. Once in housing, homeless people don't act homeless – because they're not."

"Give homeless people homes – permanent homes with accessible services administered by cordial, respectful, non-intrusive, concierge-like case managers – and the change you desire will be realized, but without all of the negatives you fear so much."

Read the rest of what Larry has to say here.

Jerry Herrington, co-founder of the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group, seeks to clarify the position of those who are against the project.

"The anger in north Oak Cliff has little to do with the homeless or supportive housing; it has a lot to do with the attitude behind words such as those James used and the reluctance by the Dallas Housing Authority and Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance to communicate directly and transparently."

"Fact: Most people in North Oak Cliff favor permanent supportive housing for the homeless. And before you retort, "Yes, but not in your back yard," please note that those of us who created the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group always envisioned such housing as part of the corridor's mix."

"It's not the concept, but the process that's ignited the outrage, a process that took place without our knowledge, our input or any effort to meld the project into our overall Fort Worth Avenue strategy."

"Fact: The people of north Oak Cliff don't fear the homeless. As happens in any neighborhood dispute, some have sent e-mails with inaccurate information. Yet others of us have relatives who either need homeless-related services or have in the past. We do not appreciate our loved ones being used as political pawns, trotted out at council meetings like circus bears asked to perform for the crowd. They and their circumstance deserve more dignity than that."

You can read the rest of his column here.

I believe, sifting through the information that I've heard and read, that the residents should have been better informed and educated on this (although, I don't think that this would have changed any minds). But at what point is the council person representing this district responsible for providing the forum for such information to come to his district. Especially if he's known about it a year in advance.

Although I believe Mr. Herrington to be wrong about the motives of presenting the prospective residents of Cliff Manor before opponents of a project which would give them an the chance to reset their lives. I also believe that there is more than one way to be a political pawn.

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