District 10 Councilwoman Kathy Stewart held a community meeting Tuesday night to discuss homelessness and crime.

District 10 Councilwoman Kathy Stewart listens to neighbors’ questions. Photo by Austin Wood.

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One of the first three questions asked by neighbors: How did the unhoused fare in the storm?

Held at Dallas College’s Richland Campus, the meeting drew well over 20 attendees. City departments present included the Office of Homeless Solutions, the Office of Integrated Public Safety Solutions, DPD, Code Compliance and Parks and Recreation. Daniel Roby, CEO of Austin Street Shelter and a native of District 10, also spoke to community members.

“I thought it was very productive,” Stewart said. “The most important purpose of this meeting was to get information out to the community about all of the City resources that are trying and working so hard to address homelessness.”

Mainly centered around the topic of unhoused populations in District 10, members of the aforementioned city departments gave detailed overviews of what they are doing to combat the issue.

“It’s very complex,” Stewart said in the meeting, “but it is very important to this district and this city to find a solution.” 

Stewart said she believes that the intersection of I-635 and Abrams Road, a hotbed for encampments when she took office, has made significant progress. She did acknowledge a persistent panhandling problem, which representatives of DPD said they are no longer able to commonly issue citations for. 

Staff from the Office of Homeless Solutions outlined the role of their Homeless Action Response Team, or HART. HART is the Office’s first response arm, combining social workers, law enforcement and code enforcement to address immediate issues and recurring encampments. Staff also gave an overview of its R.E.A.L Time Rehousing program, which moves in after HART’s initial response to sustainably disband encampments through rehousing and support. Stewart said OHS staff has been invaluable in combatting the issue at I-635 and Abrams Road.

Staff from OHS detail City’s homeless response. Photo by Austin Wood

HEART and RTR are accessible through 3-1-1 requests.

“I don’t know if we will ever be able to perfectly solve this,” Stewart said in the meeting. “We’re making a dent.”

In dire cases where an individual is experiencing a mental health crisis, neighbors are encouraged to contact 9-1-1, which will get into contact with the Office of Integrated Public Safety Solutions’ Rapid Integrated Group Healthcare Team. The RIGHT Care team is composed of a DPD officer, a paramedic from Fire-Rescue and a licensed mental health care physician from Parkland Memorial Hospital. Staff said their goal is to keep individuals out of the hospital or jail.

“To me,” Stewart said in the meeting, “the RIGHT Care team and the HART team are two wonderful additions to our outreach to the homeless.” 

Representatives from DPD’s Northeast Patrol Division stressed that DPD is unable to respond quickly and effectively to complaints of non-criminal homeless encampments through 9-1-1, and that for the quickest response, neighbors should call 3-1-1 for HART or RTR. 

“I do believe we are beginning to crack the code,” Stewart said, “to do what it takes to bring some of the homeless in and to get them what they need to be in a better place.”

Crime, which is mostly down in the Northeast Patrol Division except for home burglaries and business robberies, was raised as an issue by community members – namely drug trafficking in and around the intersection of Forest Lane and Abrams Road. Northeast Division representatives said they are aware of the issue and are taking steps to increase police presence in the area.