Commission formed to combat homeless problem in Dallas

While Dallas’ Tent City is a thing of the past, city officials say the problem of homeless tent camps is far from over.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says the city needs to spend more on a long-term solution and is forming a commission to give recommendations to the city council.

From outside his tent under I-30 at Haskill, Ronnie Turner points out new additions to the neighborhood including new ‘no trespassing’ signs.

“They come out and put them up after the fact,” he said. “Somewhere around the fifth of this month.”

Since Dallas closed and fenced off the tent city under I-45 last week, the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance confirms what many expected: other camps have formed or expanded. And the city is being drawn into a ‘reactionary game of whack-a-mole’ addressing camps as they pop up.

“I think what we did not do and what we are going to do at this time is put it in the laps of the city council and at the county and say how are we going to change our behavior,” said Mayor Mike Rawlings.

The mayor announced on Monday a new commission on homelessness. It's being asked to look for long-term solutions and make recommendations to the city council about what to spend on the issue.

“Look, we are not going to resolve this until we each… in each part of our city resolve that it's important to be done,” Rawlings said.

“National studies have confirmed over and over again that the average chronically homeless person costs upwards of $40,000 a year of taxpayer money, parkland programs, through the county hospital, Dallas Police Department and other medical issues,” said Daniel Roby with Austin Street Center.

He hopes the new commission will find a way to pair the chronically homeless with affordable housing and support services for addiction and mental issues.

“Actually exchange the dollars spent in crisis toward dollars spent into a permanent solution I think that makes sense across the board,” said Roby.

This commission is still being formed. No set meeting dates have been set yet. The first recommendations are expected in August.

The mayor's office says the city currently spends about 12.3 million in the most recent budget year including local, federal, state and county money on the homeless.