Dallas Considers New Options For Temporary Homeless Shelters

Steven Pickering
April 15, 2019 - 4:27 pm
Dallas City Hall

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DALLAS (1080 KRLD) - Members of the Dallas City Council are reviewing new options for temporary homeless shelters in all parts of the city. Staffers say the city's current shelters are about 90 percent full on most nights, which means the city needs additional space when the need for shelters increases during bad weather. 

Staffers told members of the Council's Human & Social Needs that the need for shelters increases during the winter, when temperatures can drop to near-freezing or below for several nights in a row. They're recommending that the City put out a request for businesses to apply for a special permit that would allow them to serve as temporary shelters on those occasions.

"With it only focusing on inclement weather, it will be for private facilities or properties only, and for those that are permitted in zoning districts with a special-use permit," said Monica Hardman, Director of the city's Office of Homeless Solutions. 

Harman noted that current city regulations prohibit homeless shelters from being located near schools, parks and churches. "With it being 1,000 feet away from a church, this means that any building that is currently zoned as a church, that site would not be eligible," she said. 

She also said the Council could consider changing those rules to make it easier for churches that are already focused on helping the homeless to qualify as temporary shelters. While some members of the Council expressed an interest in that idea, others had reservations about the possible impact of relaxing those restrictions. "That's problematic," said Council Member Adam McGough. "Now, you're opening the door to put permanent, general-purpose shelters all over."

The full City Council is scheduled to discuss the proposals at its meeting on Wednesday. Last year, the Council soundly rejected a plan to open temporary shelters in city recreation centers.