Heartbreaking Tent City Scene in Dallas

A view of "Tent City," the massive homeless encampment under Interstate 45, near downtown Dallas Thursday March 10, 2016. (Andy Jacobsohn/The Dallas Morning News)

Eviction date is May 4th – the tents and their residents under the Dallas interstate must go.

Tent City – the homeless camp under I-45 near downtown Dallas – sprung up last summer.   It is home to approximately 250 people – most who have no form of identification.   Already in 2016, two residents have been killed, and a man attacked several others with a hatchet this month.   

 It started out as a small, orderly neighborhood of tents, but has turned into a dangerous slum that is a threat to the nearby residential neighborhood around Farmers Market.

The city has set a deadline of May 4th to shut it down and clear them out.     Recently, the mayor paid them a visit.

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From Dallas News:   “I just wanna walk around,” said the man in the blue-hooded rain jacket pulled over his pressed button-down. He was walking down Hickory Street toward the Interstate 45 overpass, taking his first steps into Tent City in as long as he could remember. The sky was growing dark, and a light drizzle had begun to fall.   “I just wanna talk to some people.”

And they wanted to talk to him. Turns out, many of the residents of the massive homeless encampment on downtown’s southern edge know Mayor Mike Rawlings. And they know he wants them out come early May.

Tent City’s residents weren’t sure what to make of the scene — the mayor guarded by two plainclothes Dallas police officers, wandering around, extending his hand for a casual, warm greeting. Rawlings surveyed the scene. He was astonished by how much Tent City had grown since his last visit.

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Mayor Rawlings did talk to the people of Tent City – he entered their world, extended his hand, and his concern, for their destitute situation.     He asked them, “Where ya from? How’d ya get here? How long have ya been here?”

He told them he didn’t want them living under bridges, in tents and cardboard boxes.  

“Let me ask you guys. I’m mayor, and I’m supposed to fix stuff. How do I fix this? You guys should not be down here. This is not acceptable.”

One man, a bespectacled fellow in a Chicago Bulls cap named Mike, said he simply wanted a job.  “You can’t help yourself until you have a job,” said Mike, who explained he built portables for the Dallas ISD for 20 years till he was tossed aside. “A job. When a man is working, he’s got self-worth.”

For more than an hour, Rawlings talked to residents. Each had a different origin story. One woman said she’d been in one tent city or another for 16 years. One man said he was a sex offender with a federal rap sheet who couldn’t find anyone willing to hire him. One guy said he’d been here a year after being dropped off downtown by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice following a stint in prison.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Meanwhile… As of 2013, illegal immigration cost Texas taxpayers $12.1 annually.[/pullquote]

Mayor Rawlings was appointed in 2007 as the homesless czar, and tasked with ending homelessness in Dallas within 10 years.   He admits it’s gotten worse instead of better.     Meanwhile, the clock is ticking, and the search for a solution is still on.  

(Read full story at Dallas News)

RELATED NEWS:  San Francisco Homeless Camp Dismantled





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