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As Tent City Shuts Down, Concerns In Dallas About How To Address Homelessness

Stephanie Kuo
Tent City is underneath Interstate 45 near downtown Dallas.

Dallas city officials say they’re on track with plans to shut down a homeless encampment known as Tent City. But it may take longer than expected. 

A few hundred homeless people live in the camp under Interstate 45 near downtown, and social workers have been helping them find places to live. That’s a tall task because some area shelters are already full.

Nonprofit groups that help the homeless updated the Dallas City Council today. They say they plan to create more emergency shelter space to help. 

Jay Dunn is president and CEO of The Bridge. Dunn told council members the homeless problem goes beyond Tent City.

“We’re now seeing homeless encampments in each of your districts," Dunn said. "I really am concerned about the fact that we do not deal with these lack of capacities that we’ve got, we’re just going to see more of this.” 

Dallas officials want Tent City shut down by early May. Some City Council members questioned whether that would be possible. City officials indicated today that they may need more time. 

Some council members say the emergency shelters are a short-term fix to a long-term problem. Others say more needs to be done to help homeless people get off the streets, such as offering free bus passes.

Council member Scott Griggs says the plan for Tent City is incomplete.  

“Ultimately, we need to get a plan in place," Griggs said. "Right now, what I see is just one element of the plan. Where are we going to move people to? But without all these other pieces that we know we need, we are setting ourselves up for failure.” 

Griggs has concerns about how Dallas police will handle people who don’t want to leave Tent City, and how officials will prevent the homeless from returning to the area.