Homelessness - Tent Cities in Dallas

     By a 2015 count, there were nearly 10,000 homeless people living on the streets of Dallas. The city in 2016, under the leadership of then mayor Mike Rawlings, proposed solutions for providing housing for the city’s unhoused population. At the same time, homeless encampments were being eliminated, removed, and relocated by police and city officials[1].

     Among the largest homeless encampments are the “tent cities” which existed over the last decade, in various parts of Dallas: under I-45 near downtown[2], I-45 at I-30 approximately one mile south of downtown[3], and on a plot of land near Malcolm X Blvd.[4] As one tent city is closed by the city, more emerge: I-45 at Coombs and I-45 at Harwood and MLK, to name a few[5].

     The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25, states: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age, or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control[6].” Dallas’ issue with tent cities hits on a few points of Article 25, most notably the right to adequate housing. While Dallas has allocated funding for transitional housing, these efforts have not made much progress[7]. The City of Dallas announced formation of the commission on homelessness to study the problem and find solutions, but work and results on this are slow moving[8], leaving people in continued desperation. Shelters asked for $500,000 to improve their ability to serve the homeless, but that was not awarded. However, the city provided funds for new superstores and landmark restoration[9].

     Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also notes “circumstances beyond his control” as further reason why all people are entitled to housing, even if their life circumstance of age, joblessness, or disability prevent them from obtaining it by traditional means, such as working and paying the rent.[10]Journalist Dick Reavis spent several days in one of the large tent cities, not long before its removal by the city. The people he encountered were marred by a range of circumstances from job loss to economic trends to injury and disability[11]. While some certainly can be accused of laziness or addiction, their right to proper housing should not be abridged. Rather than cities and localities offering assistance, circumstances of homelessness are often made more difficult by “a national trend toward criminalizing actions associated with homelessness, including sitting or lying down in public, loitering, panhandling, and even sleeping in a car.” “[12]

     Dallas is not alone in its struggle with homelessness, tent cities, and failure to provide for the basic human need of our people. This continues to be an issue in the United States as a whole, despite our high levels of national wealth, gross domestic product, and declarations of freedom and opportunity for all.


 

Endnotes

[1] Tasha Tsiaperas,. “Tent City closed, so where do Dallas’ homeless go from here?” Dallas Morning News, May 13, 2016, https://www.dallasnews.com/news/2016/05/13/tent-city-closed-so-where-do-dallas-homeless-go-from-here/ (accessed February 6, 2021). 

[2] Tsiaperas.

[3] Dick J. Reavis, Dick. “The Last Days of Tent City,”Texas Observer, August 8, 2016, https://www.texasobserver.org/tent-city-dallas-feature/ (accessed February 6,2021).

[4] Tsiaperas.

[5] Tsiaperas.

[6] United Nations. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (December 10, 1948):

[7] Shawn Shinneman,. “City of Dallas’ Ex-Homeless Chief Explains Why It’s So Hard to Get Neighborhoods to Help,” D Magazine, March 5, 2020, https://www.dmagazine.com/frontburner/2020/03/city-dallas-homeless-chief-nimby-housing-shelters/ (accessed February 6, 2021) .

[8] Tsiaperas

[9] Reavis.

[10] United Nations. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (December 10, 1948):

[11] Reavis.

[12] Jen Beardsley, “The Criminalization of Homelessness,” Texas Homeless Network, https://www.thn.org/2019/07/01/the-criminalization-of-homelessness-across-the-texas-balance-of-state/ (accessed February 7, 2021).


Bibliography

 

United Nations. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December 10, 1948).

 

Beardsley, Jen. “The Criminalization of Homelessness,” Texas Homeless Network, Accessed February 7, 2021. https://www.thn.org/2019/07/01/the-criminalization-of-homelessness-across-the-texas-balance-of-state/ (accessed February 7, 2021)

 

Reavis, Dick. “The Last Days of Tent City,” Texas Observer, August 8, 2016. https://www.texasobserver.org/tent-city-dallas-feature/ (accessed February 6, 2012).a

Shinneman, Shawn. “City of Dallas’ Ex-Homeless Chief Explains Why It’s So Hard to Get Neighborhoods to Help,” D Magazine, March 5, 2020,  https://www.dmagazine.com/frontburner/2020/03/city-dallas-homeless-chief-nimby-housing-shelters/ (accessed February 6, 2021).

 

Tsiaperas, Tasha. “Tent City closed, so where do Dallas’ homeless go from here?” Dallas Morning News, May 13, 2016, https://www.dallasnews.com/news/2016/05/13/tent-city-closed-so-where-do-dallas-homeless-go-from-here/ (accessed February 6, 2021).

 

 

Images

Tent City in Dallas

Tent City in Dallas

The Dallas skyline looms behind the homeless encampment a few weeks before city officials cleared it. | Source: Patrick Michels | Creator: Patrick Michels View File Details Page

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32.779077, -96.781941 [map]

Cite this Page:

Tyler Reames, “Homelessness - Tent Cities in Dallas,” Human Rights Dallas Maps, accessed May 8, 2021, http://humanrightsdallasmaps.com/items/show/28.

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