Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Homeless?

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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OK, let me ask you about something else, while we're on the subject. And first of all, I am not going to say anything negative or critical about rich people, because I don't want to offend anybody's religion. Today.

But what about people who are super-duper chickenshit about the homeless? I mean, c'mon. Are we that afraid of them?

I know there are offensive "homeless" people out there -- unarmed robbers, basically, who try to man you out of your money. Ever heard of "Just say no?"

We were talking about downtown yesterday and how the waffle-brows at City Hall want to shut down the tunnel system in order to force the Morlocks back out onto the streets. Morlocks -- that would be us, the slacker citizens who hang out in air-conditioned tunnels downtown instead of doing our civic duty and going up on the sidewalks to create a "walkable neighborhood."

Apparently walking underground doesn't count. We have to be up on the sidewalks where the waffle-brows can count us.

I think some people misinterpreted me as being anti-sidewalk. I love sidewalks. I wish our sidewalks downtown were jammed with snake-charmers, rug-merchants, squid-sellers and soothsayers. I just don't think boarding up the tunnels will do it.

I would offer as proof some of the commenters yesterday who were saying that they stay down in Morlock-land in the tunnels in order to avoid the homeless. See. Some of the people down there are never coming out on the street anyway, because they're afraid of daylight and the human race.

Oh, now here we go again. Now I'm going to offend people's religions anyway, even though I didn't want to, by contending that homeless people are members of the human race. I know that in the Park Cities translation of the Bible, Jesus said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for an unfashionably dressed man to enter into the Kingdom of God." (I think there's some debate about the translation from the Greek.)

But give us a break. Most homeless people are harmless. Some of them are funny, if you talk to them. Give them a buck or don't. It's up to you.

But are you really going to give up the streets of your city to them, because you're afraid of them? If they look nuts, walk around. If you don't feel like paying them, don't. But don't give up your city.

The only reason the homeless are so visible downtown is because nobody else is down there to make a crowd. Find a way to fill downtown with people, and the homeless among us will be much less visible.

And ... Oh, man, I swore to myself I would not do this ... but I'm going to anyway ... I'm just going to go ahead and say it.

The homeless are cool. I admire a guy who can survive without working and stay drunk all day on other people's money.

We could all take a chapter from them. In a better world, we would all trade places every once in a while. They would come do the laundry and pay the bills in our lives, and we would all go downtown for a week or so and sit around on their corners half-baked, making crude jokes about passersby.

We could stagger a mile in their shoes.

You know, according to one interpretation, it's the sober man who can't get through the eye of the needle.

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amberdiann
amberdiann

My my daily dog route takes me from the Metropolitan to Main Street Garden Park. Monday-Friday evening I rarely see any homeless people. It's true I usually see a couple at the park hanging on the benches but they're no different than the clean people doing the same thing.

It's the weekends that I always find the following like clockwork:

1 homeless sitting outside CVS1 homeless black guy who has a pregnant wife (at the library) and wants food for her. He loves the ribs at Sol...1 homeless person outside fish market wanting to sell you the Homeless Times. Random homeless people that are waking around town asking for nothing.

Personally, I don't see the big deal. Homeless people are just like us but with really bad chologne.

Tpalmer17
Tpalmer17

Saying no to panhandlers is easy. It's stopping to have to listen to their fake back story about why they just need a few more dollars that wears you down. You can give a couple bucks to the first guy, but by the fourth guy you just want to get to somewhere indoors. If it's a crowded sidewalk scene you feel is the dearth of downtown, one can mingle in the area of the DART western transfer station and west end light rail station. It's a hive of activity that Jim craves in that area. There's even a new McDonald's snd 7-11. I'm sure the landlords of the expensive apartments adjacent are racking in the cash from the critical mass.

cp
cp

It's also really easy to not listen to the stories.

Tpalmer17
Tpalmer17

Street smarts suggest you don't treat homeless people as less than human. Dehumanizing people encourages them to reciprocate. I've had many an encounter whereby I tried to wave off a sob story and they take great offense. It's always best to listen and then tell them you're broke too.

md
md

"I admire a guy who can survive without working and stay drunk all day on other people's money." You also admired that kid from your neighborhood that grew into a young man but didn't outgrow his narcissistic need to tag other people's property.

Why? Because it helps you score cool points to say, "I'm not scared of the homeless. I like things dirty. If you don't, there's always North Park."

Guess what? Most people aren't afraid of the homeless. They're annoyed and disgusted by them. When I worked downtown, I bought the newspaper some of them produced and sold. Sometimes I bought the same issue twice. Because those guys were at least making an effort to do something productive.

Most people don't want to live in gritty, high-crime areas. Yet you wrote you were almost nostalgic about the days of old when you would hear gunshots in your neighborhood. Why? To burnish your street cred? Or your liberal cred? If you really miss those days, you can move to a gritty, high-crime area where gunshots are still heard. Think of the cash you could bank if you sold your house in the gentrifying neighborhood and bought one where nobody with a decent income wants to live.

I'm all for a vibrant downtown. But let's not pretend we have to embrace grittiness in the name of authenticity. Downtown Dallas wasn't that way in its heyday.

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

People are not going to be on sidewalk in 100 degree weather.I have never been in the tunnel and not going.City streets were full when there were stores,restaurants,employment,and other people needs downtown.We had a large underground restroom facility and cold water fountains down there.People moved out and ran to all these shopping malls and Burbs so what did Dallas expect.I saw it when North Park opened and there was no public transportation to get there.What did that say,no car,no enter.Dallas has always separated its people by class,money,color and every thing else that make great Cities Great, then cry about it.In New York ,as you said the homeless are not seen to many people on street.The same in DC and other Cities with active downtown areas.

Lakewoodhobo
Lakewoodhobo

This whole discussion makes me wonder what happened to the Observer's downtown office (are the You+Dallas people working there now?) and whether it would be possible to move back in the area sometime in the future.

JimS
JimS

I'd be all for it, if it didn't mean having to give up the Dallas Observer Employees golf course.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Its not the homeless that are the problem per se, its the the panhandlers. Wanna know the difference, offer said person a snack from your lunch bag, if they take it they are homeless, if they get pissy and dont want it, they are panhandlers. Beggers cant be choosers, and yes im talking about the eff head who frequents ross and pearl weekly

If I had a billion dollars...
If I had a billion dollars...

I pity the homeless and chronically mentally ill who are, on top of everything else, indigent.Their lives are stolen in a blur of treatable but profound illnesses.

How many various programs are we funding to help these people?The programs aren't working.They are money flushed away with no lasting impact.The homeless still roam the streets.

I completely agree with something I saw on PBS over a year ago on the same topic: it seems we as a society need to come to the realization that many people will never be independent. They need permanent housing and mandatory meds. A bed, a desk, and a tiny bathroom. Food and meds on the first floor. If they find some sort of job, great, but don't count on it and certainly don't kick them out if they get a job.

Mandatory meds, in exchange for housing and food, are the only chance these people will have.

We just need to bite the bullet and do it.If only I were a billionaire...

Montemalone
Montemalone

Repubs won't have it. Are you kidding? Taking care of those that can't take care of themselves? What do you think we're running here, some sort of civilized society?Better to let them rot on the streets, After all, I think that's what they preach about on Sunday mornings in all those monster churches, where they happily give money to some guy that stands up and rants for an hour...

Mrwiizrd
Mrwiizrd

Who cares about Republicans? Or the Democrats for that matter. I think it's pretty clear that government has shown it can't effectively address the issue.

If you really want to help the indigent, donate to one of the many charities that exist to help the homeless or better yet start your own.

Advocacydallas
Advocacydallas

Prevention yes, jobs paying a living wage yes, affordable housing yes - it is getting harder and harder to do this especially with the current economy. And of course you have the usual NIMBY problems no matter where you try to provide housing. Also, many of the chronic homeless are really not able to work and will never be able to hold a job. That is usually due to mental illness or other mental deficiencies. They are not all drunks. Have you ever met a seriously mentally ill person who would acknowledge they are ill? Unfortunately our current system does not allow us to force anyone into housing or to take medication.

Jay Hawk
Jay Hawk

Or those that help prevent people from becoming homeless and transition the homeless into jobs and apartments, like Crossroads Community Services.

gabbahey
gabbahey

If anyone here REALLY wants to see a good cross-section of the homeless in downtown Dallas, go to the 500 block of Park Ave, any day of the week around 8:00am. There is a long line of (apparently) homeless folks, stretching around the corner onto Young st. Every day. I would guess the number to be over 100, +/- 10%.

Dallasadvocate
Dallasadvocate

The long line is people waiting to get in the food bank upstairs. It is operated by the Methodist Church downtown.

L_Streets
L_Streets

Operated by First Presbyterian across from the Stewpot.

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

Jim, I side with you on thinking of the homeless as people, but despite what some people may say about the homeless, what Dallas does to provide them with assistance is a different thing. And on that front, I don't see how anyone could fault this city's compassion. I'm not entirely sure why we have to deliver that compassion through downtown facilities and services, but that's a different issue.

dt&ot
dt&ot

I used to live a couple houses down from Sylvan and I-30. I loved it. I could see downtown from my front yard. I loved the diversity the neighborhood had to offer. I liked shopping in the Davis area and eating in the Bishop's art district. The hobo's lived across the highway and seldom ventured into the neighborhoods. I could ride my bike across the Houston street bridge on Saturday, ride full speed through downtown on empty streets and stop for an orange at the farmers market. Only a few times in the 5 years I lived there was I approached by an agressive pandhandler. I just said no agressively back and they moved on. The corner hobo's stayed on the far side of I-30 and seldom came into the neighborhood except to walk around (It's pretty, I liked walking around there too). A couple of times a guy or gal would decide to camp out on the creek across from my house and bathe in the creek. All it took was for me to go over and ask them to move back to the other side of the highway (kinda mean? maybe).

My wife hated it. She hated getting asked for her" digits" at the gas station or being approached agressively at her car for money in the grocery store lot. It made her nervous to pull up to the house at night and get out, not knowing who may be walking around the neioghborhood. She did not like the nitty gritty city. She won. We moved to the norhern whitebread burbs. Know what? Not that bad out here. There are things to do, some area restaurants that are not chains, low noise, rapid (if overzealous) police response times and decent government. Know what else? Good roads, cleaner air, responsive city services and pretty good public schools. Just sayin.

Know what? the bunrbs

Jay Hawk
Jay Hawk

To each his own - some of us like the nitty gritty and want to make it more livable for those who have homes and those who don't.Just remember that the suburbs are what they are because of the city that spawned them. It's kind of like the middle aged child who takes care of their aging parent. It also explains why the burbs need to do more to support public transit and Parkland.

cp
cp

Sadly, as the census has shown us- you know, facts and all- most people in the DFW would prefer the suburbs. That's why I keep harping that Dallasites have a generally suburban attitude. Even if you like the "nitty gritty city", or like Schutze, likes to be in the city, well, he's still in a pretty suburban neighborhood, just like the rest of us.

Jay Hawk
Jay Hawk

Meant to hit reply, not Like. Anyway, as I said - to each his own.But why is giving up and moving to the suburbs the only option? The only way to make a neighborhood better is to become more involved in it and help create a catalyst for change. I guess it's just easier to give up and move to Frisco.

NotTheSuburbs
NotTheSuburbs

I walk all over downtown each day at lunch and there just aren't nearly as many homeless as people seem to think. I've only been doing it for a couple of years so maybe there were a lot more homeless in the past but the scope of the problem is totally exaggerated now.

Blaming the homeless for downtown being deserted is just a cop out. Have you ever been to New Orleans or San Francisco? They have tons more homeless and their downtown areas are far from deserted. Let's face it, a large portion of the suburban population is afraid of downtown and there's nothing you can do to change their minds. There will always be homeless in the downtown areas of every major city, so either you need to deal with it or stay out of downtown.

cp
cp

It doesn't matter, perception is reality and there are thousands of daytime downtown people who happily get into their cars and drive OUT of Dallas to go home where they couch their kids soccer teams, shop at the Wal Mart and live out their happy lives away from what they perceive is a dangerous way to live in downtoen.

rubbercow
rubbercow

Where is downtoen? Oh, that's right, it's over in the Dutch District ;)

scottindallas
scottindallas

But, no one can deny, you'll see lots of minorities around the city court bldg. They're on DART and all over South Dallas. Minorities are all over! I mean homeless, homeless.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

How about DART Rail that is like a Tunnel on wheels lots people use to get on and off on Main Elm and Commerce now they get on and off in areas that are on out side edges of the central Business District .

Do we need to stop that as well?

Anonymous Friend
Anonymous Friend

But I've also seen homeless people ride the DART from Fair Park Station all the way to Parker Road and back to Fair Park Station just to give them something to do I guess. There really is no way to avoid "the crazies."

Sometimes I wonder what homeless people think about us....

MattL1
MattL1

Ask 'em. I think you'd be intrigued by the answers.

NRS
NRS

Walk the streets of any dense, urban city (say, for example, Chicago or New York) and you will see poor people and the homeless and crazy all mixed in with professionals and students and everyone else. Some people who live in those regions are "afraid" of walking in their city centers just as some people here are afraid of downtown Dallas. Ignore them. There are plenty of white-washed suburbs where they can hole up. Continue doing what we can to attract more people of every possible stripe downtown, and good things will happen. There are plenty of urban-minded people in Dallas who are ready to do their part.

cp
cp

You're right... "some" people in those areas are afraid. But here in the DFW, it's most people.

A Modest Proposal
A Modest Proposal

How bout tucking away all the homeless by turning the tunnels into 1 big shelter and then bring all the clean and pretty people above ground to walkabout?

Sandy Maltese
Sandy Maltese

Hmmm not a bad idea to turn the tunnels into shelter...it's cool down there right???

JimS
JimS

What is most interesting here and in yesterday's thread about the tunnels is the number of pepole who sound like they do know what's going on downtown and who defend downtown. I don't want to over-interpret, but isit possible we are finally getting at least a cadre of truly urban people here who get downtowns and who are starting to feel protective of this downtown?

Downtowner
Downtowner

I've worked downtown for 5 years and can tell you that most of the people in my office won't venture out more than a block from my building. But I've gotten a few of them to walk further out, and they actually start to notice things like the Statler Hilton and Main Street Garden. One of them even posted on her Facebook wall that the Statler had a new buyer. And she didn't know what that was until a few months ago.

Anyway, I may be in the minority but I think we have a pretty awesome downtown that is slowly but surely filling with people who feel the same way.

Montemalone
Montemalone

I lived in Chicago, a city with a big downtown (The Loop, also a radio station) and a generally urban vibe throughout the city, where you can walk to the store or a restaurant or bar. Hop on a bus or the El to get around, and hail a cab if need be. Ever tried to hail a cab in Dallas?I'd like it to be "real city", like it was pre-WWII. Until we change zoning laws and start charging for parking everywhere, people won't get it.

Lakewoodhobo
Lakewoodhobo

Hailing a cab? They have apps for that now.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Does that mean I'm supposed to stand on the curb and wave my phone over my head?

G_David
G_David

Should have been on Matilda street Saturday night. You could have hailed a cab, and about 17 of them would have pulled over. Of course that only happens on St. Patrick's Parade day, New Year's Eve and Halloween, but still....

TimCov
TimCov

So, Jim, if you love downtown so much, why haven't you sold your home and moved downtown?

scottindallas
scottindallas

or, as my kids would say, "why don't you marry it?"

Every bum a prophet
Every bum a prophet

Answering your question:  as long as there are plenty of naive pollyanna white liberals in Dallas who get a feelgood DoGooder boost for their egos by hanging around wasting their precious time listening to ranting bums and hoping that the bum will drunkenly channel the next next "Black Elk Speaks",  and as long as there are plenty of other disingenuous white liberals to constantly publicly congratulate each other on how "enlightened" they are, your plan will work out JUST FINE.   

JimS
JimS

It is a known fact that most bums are Republicans,and they get that way because Republicans just drink too much. Waaay too much. Republicans need to dial waaaay back on the booze.

Every bum a prophet
Every bum a prophet

Haw haw it looks like my comments cut some disingenuous white liberals a little close to the bone!

Coleman
Coleman

I haven't really seen many homeless people in Deep Ellum lately, either. hrmm

Some of us are old
Some of us are old

I'm an atheist, so your disingenuous appeals to Christianity are impotent as far as I am concerned. Progressivism is just as stupid a religion as the Christianity that schutze is always whining about.

Bigmac Tony
Bigmac Tony

'I admire a guy who can survive without working and stay drunk all day on other people's money.'

Being the typical liberal you are-- you would admire a bureaucrat!

JimS
JimS

Nah. I was thinking of CEOs.

scottindallas
scottindallas

A true Texan would think of Townes Van Zandt.

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