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Extra funds sought for Dallas homeless shelter

By Maxine Shapiro, KERA 90.1 business commentator

Dallas, TX – There are over 5,100 homeless people in Dallas. On May 3rd, the citizens voted overwhelmingly to spend $3 million on a new shelter. But unfortunately, that was only half of what the Homeless Alliance had originally asked for and needs. I'm Maxine Shapiro with KERA Marketplace Midday.

I do believe the city council might have been a little surprised that the shelter proposal even passed. It was no thanks to them. Council support for the homeless shelter initially was mixed, but members changed their minds as public support became clear. However, they strongly endorsed the animal shelter from the beginning. 72% of voters agreed to spend $11 million on a new animal shelter. And 79% of the voters approved $3 million to build a new homeless shelter. Now we'll never know if the good citizens of Dallas would have actually accepted the $6 million amount the Alliance wanted.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's just lovely that stray dogs and kitty cats will have a new $11 million place to sleep. But how do you explain it to the down-and-out homeless person that it might take a little longer than was hoped for to build the new shelter? Somehow another $3 million needs to be raised.

Here are a few stats about our homeless neighbors, furnished by the Alliance: 29% are receiving some source of income, but cannot find affordable housing. The average one bedroom apartment in Dallas rents for $660, while the average amount an individual draws from Social Security is $552. About 2,400 women and children are homeless. And I doubt if the Bush tax cut is going to help provide for the over 2,400 that became homeless for the first time last year.

So now not only do they have to find another $3 million, but when they do, developers would like to place the shelter about 2 miles away from all the other social services a homeless person needs. A city director told the Dallas Morning News, "It will be good for the city as a whole because it paints a more humane picture of the city of Dallas." Yeah, in whose eyes? For KERA Marketplace Midday, I'm Maxine Shapiro.


Marketplace Midday Reports air on KERA 90.1 Monday - Friday at 1:04 p.m.

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