I’ve periodically been checking on the status of the Muchert Army reserve center on Northwest Highway next to the Northeast Police Substation. Since we last reported on the situation in August, each time I check, I’m told the same thing — nothing new. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) still hasn’t decided whether to the let the City of Dallas use the property for the Park and Recreation Department or to use the property to assist the city’s homeless, according to a federal law.
As far as I understand, that hasn’t changed — HUD still hasn’t made its final decision about what to do with the property. But an addendum to the City Council’s agenda earlier this month shows that city leaders aren’t just resting on their haunches waiting for something to happen. (Thanks to neighbor Dennis Sullivan for bringing the addendum to our attention.)
In the addendum, the city resolved to include a proposition in the next general bond program for at least $2 million "for the purpose of balancing the need for permanent supportive housing in respect to the Jules E. Muchert United States Army Reserve Center." The addendum also recognizes "a substantial homeless need" and directs city staff to continue exploring additional funding sources for "permanent supportive housing" even before the next bond election.
As you might remember from previous posts, federal law would require that the former reserve center site be used to assist the homeless, unless another group proposes a different use that would outweigh this need. So upon first read, I thought the addendum was stating that the decision had been made, and the $2 million would be to convert the Muchert Army reserve center into a property to assist the city’s homeless. But a quick call to Councilman Jerry Allen conveyed this isn’t the case. According to Allen, this was a "good faith effort for permanent supportive housing" and "the city’s way to show its willingness to do this." But city leaders, he says, are still hoping and believing that HUD will agree to turn the property over to the Dallas Park and Recreation Department.
In other words, the addendum was the city’s way of showing its support to assist the homeless — but preferably somewhere other than the reserve center property. The "balancing" mentioned in the addendum is a commitment to put money into such efforts elsewhere in the city, thereby making the reserve center site unnecessary for this kind of use.
Allen says the city is hoping for a decision from HUD within a month or two, so I guess we’ll see if HUD officials agree.