On Wednesday, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson will issue a proclamation declaring November 12-20 Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.
Since 1975, communities and organizations across the country have used National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week to raise awareness of the twin issues that affect so many parts of the United States.
“It’s important to bring public attention to the needs of our city’s most vulnerable residents,” Johnson said in a news release Tuesday. “Helping people out of homelessness can be very difficult. I am very proud of the many organizations and employees who serve our neighbors with patience, compassion and understanding.
Earlier this year, the Dallas/Fort Worth-based advocacy group Housing Forward conducted an annual census of the homeless population in Dallas and Collin counties, counting nearly 4,000 in Dallas and about 400 in Collin.
These figures marked a decline from 2019, with family homelessness falling by almost 20% over the three-year period.
Almost a third of the homeless population in the two counties was unsheltered at the 2022 count, and households with children made up more than 18% of the total count.
“In addition to the many social service organizations who work tirelessly throughout the year to help those in need, some people take it upon themselves to serve our community,” City Manager TC Broadnax said in the release. tuesday.
“I strongly encourage residents to reach out to nonprofit organizations that are in need of volunteers and donations, especially at this time of year,” Broadnax added. “Working in partnership with an experienced group is the best way to help a neighbor in need.
Johnson’s proclamation comes shortly after the Dallas City Council passed an ordinance banning people from standing on medians less than 6 feet wide, a move widely seen as a crackdown on beggars.
Adam Bazaldua, the only city council member to vote against the ordinance, warned that the ordinance would lead to discriminatory enforcement, arguing that it contradicts the city’s efforts to deprioritize low-level misdemeanors.
“Not only is it contradictory; it’s also counterproductive and will most likely result in even more discriminatory enforcement than what we’ve seen with marijuana,” Bazaldua told the Observer late last month. “It was definitely a step backwards for our city, and I think it was regressive for the work we were doing the other way.”
Earlier this year, as Dallas tried to tackle homelessness, city memos warned of armed activists in homeless encampments. “City employees recently encountered resistance from activists and armed individuals at the homeless encampment cleanup site,” a memo read.
At the time, the Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club, one of the groups that showed up armed at an encampment in July, told the Observer that “everyone has the right to defend his house against those who wish to harm him”.
“There are over 3,000 vacant homes in the City of Dallas, but the city’s priority has been handcuffs to house keys,” the group said in a statement.
Last year, the Texas legislature passed a statewide camping ban targeting homeless residents. The law, which took effect in September 2021, made camping in a public space a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.
In Dallas, advocacy groups that work with the homeless population said the ban made life worse for people living on the streets.