The Intermittent Volunteer’s Weblog

Befriending People in Dallas Who Are Homeless

Things That Make You Go ‘Hmmm’… January 17, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2008

Things That Make You Go ‘Hmmm’…


How is it that…?


…the Dallas Police Department picked 8:00 A.M., Wednesday, January 14, 2009, the coldest day of this winter thus far, to raid the homeless camps outside the city center, destroy people’s cardboard houses, seize their personal belongings and ticket the homeless individuals living there?


How is it that…?


…when I was at the decimated camp site last night with a friend talking to camp leader, [let’s call him] Harry, who was a recipient of this raid, and who had been cuffed in addition to being ticketed and having his belongings and home taken away, I was the one who couldn’t stop crying, and he was the one who put his arms around me, held onto me for a long time and comforted me, saying into my ear:  “You can’t be sad, please don’t cry, it’s nothing bad, it’s only good.  It’s all in God’s hands, it was all been planned from the beginning.  There’s nothing bad in this, you have to believe me.  Do you believe me?  Have faith, know that only good will come of this.  It is all supposed to be happening.  You can’t cry.  I don’t want you to be sad.”  Then, because of his solace, my tears stopped.  My friend and I had gone to ‘Harry’ and his friends last night to help them out with coats and blankets, but, as has so often happened with homeless friends in the past, the comfort came back more than it went out, and he saved me from despair.


How is it that…?


…with 1300 shelter beds in the city (not including 300+ at the Bridge) and over 5869 homeless women, men and children in Dallas counted in the homeless census for 2008 [most people close to the homeless community consider the number 10,000 to be a more accurate estimate], the City of Dallas considers it appropriate behavior to ticket, arrest and generally hound the homeless until they are either in jail or in hiding, pretending that they have options as to where to go?  


Here’s a quote from NBCDFW for January 14, 2009:  “A small army of Dallas bike patrol officers took to the streets of downtown Wednesday to move the homeless population off the streets and into shelters…  Over the past week, Dallas Bike Patrol Officers have written 200 trespass citations in and around downtown.  “We will be going into Deep Ellum and the Cedars next,” Allen said.  “This will be an on-going operation.”

I’m no math major, but even I can see the discrepancy in numbers here.  Does the City believe that Dallas citizens are so clueless or so gullible as to be unable to subtract 1300 from 5869 and come up with 4569 homeless people who have no access to a shelter bed?  “Into shelters”?  Shouldn’t we just say “get them to disappear into thin air”?  (OK, well, I am so clueless that when I first calculated the numbers in my head I got 3569, but never mind.)


How is it that…?


…it takes twelve Dallas Police Officers to stop and search a homeless man and his bags when he is on his way to work, as happened this week [without probable cause, as far as I can tell]?  Twelve.  Is that an effective use of police resources?  Those must be some ‘powerful-bad’ blankets he has to carry with him everywhere he goes because people are routinely getting their belongings stolen in the Bridge storage facilities.


How is it that…?


…laws such as ‘sleeping in public’ and ‘obstructing the sidewalk’ can be considered constitutional, when, if you or I took these actions dressed in a business suit, there is very little chance that we would be ticketed for them?  In other words, so-called ‘quality of life’ ordinances are not applied to all citizens equally, but only to those who ‘look homeless’.


How is it that…?


…in the greatest city in the world (in my opinion), Paris, France, it is not at all unusual to be panhandled, even on the Metro (subway), and people still, miracle of miracles, live in, work in and flock to this vibrant, extremely diverse city from all over the world?  Could it be that we’re putting too much blame on the homeless for challenges in revitalizing downtown Dallas?


How is it that…?


…after all the progress we’ve made toward compassionate solutions to homelessness in Dallas, we are once again back to this state of affairs, when everyone, including City Hall and the Dallas Police Department, knows better?


These are a few of the Things That Make Me Go ‘Hmmmm.’  What about you?




One Response to “Things That Make You Go ‘Hmmm’…”

  1. SoupMan Says:


    Math was never one of my best subjects in school, but its seems your math is spot on. Not enough shelter beds and too many homeless.
    Hmm, me thinks we have a lot more work to do before we get a handle on the homeless situation in Dallas. Hmm, me hopes that there will be great compassion shown for the ‘least of these’ as we work through these shelter bed issues.
    I’m reminded of the one they call Jesus. Didn’t he say something about ‘how you treat the least of these is how you are treating me?’ Hmm, now that should be getting people’s attention one would think!!!
    Signed, David Timothy, a.k.a. The SoupMan

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