Yesterday while sitting in my office in Downtown Dallas,one of Dallas's finest (Police Officers) came in with a document that he wanted me to sign. It was a NO Trespassing form that would virtually allow the police to pickup Homeless people who were in front of my business for trespassing. I was shocked. Why would I sign a blanket order for homeless people to be picked up if they were in front of my business? No way would I even consider such a thing.
My office has been in downtown Dallas for almost 30 years and I have come to know many homeless people. Some experiences have been bad, but for the most part, I understand many of their plights and I believe that the city of Dallas is trying to harass the homeless so that they will not be in downtown for the new people who are moving in their lofts,condos,and expensive apartments.
The homeless problem is so complicated, but the city seems to be attempting to make the case that they are all drunks and drug users who are harassing people. They do not seem to care that there are working homeless, women, children, veterans, mentally ill,alcohol and drug addicted homeless people. How can you possibly solve all of the problems that they are facing by using a cookie cutter approach to resolutions? This council does not seem to have the heart or the will to address many needs for the homeless,other than the new facility that they have built,which was on the drawing board before many on the current council was elected. I believe that a facility is not the only answer, and that is why you have over a hundred people sleeping outside each night.
I ask the officer several questions about the initiative that they were working on and he explained everything that he could to me. He was very courteous and listened to my concerns, while not agreeing with my assessment of the problem.
I did not sign the form and hope that other merchants will not blindly sign a form that would automatically give the police the right to accuse the homeless of trespassing and take them straight to jail.
Criminalizing the act of homelessness will not solve the problem.