Making strides on homelessness in Dallas (and other updates)
Now, it is up to city staff and the partners in this effort to ensure that this plan is properly implemented and executed.
The following was adapted from my email newsletter. To sign up, visit mayorofdallas.org.
Candor is critical in government.
Your elected leaders must be honest with you about the problems the city is facing and about how those problems can be addressed. That was one of the primary goals of my State of the City address in December.
One of the areas mentioned: homelessness.
The ranks of those experiencing homelessness in Dallas has grown over the last decade. Homelessness is a complex problem with myriad causes, including financial instability, mental and physical illnesses, substance abuse and addiction, and domestic violence.
Homelessness is one of the city’s most pressing issues. But because of that complex nature of homelessness, it is far more than a City of Dallas problem to solve. That is why, in the State of the City speech, I called on private partners and every level of government “to do more to address the root causes of homelessness” in the region and asserted that only “a collective effort” could help turn the tide.
Last week, the city council moved forward with one such collective effort that was initially announced in June.
Under the plan, which was approved unanimously, the city will contribute $25 million of its federal funds to a public-private partnership that aims to rapidly rehouse more than 2,700 people experiencing homelessness in the area (that’s about half of the area’s homeless population, according to the latest point-in-time count). Dallas County, the cities of Plano and Mesquite, the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, and local Continuum-of-Care organizations are all partners on the $72 million initiative.
In conjunction with other city efforts to increase affordable and supportive housing in Dallas, this initiative could be a major step forward.
Now, it is up to city staff and the partners in this effort to ensure that this plan is properly implemented and executed. Oversight remains critical, too, and the city council must receive regular updates on progress.
The people of Dallas deserve real solutions and a continued commitment to getting Back to Basics and Building for the Future. This initiative represents a major step in that direction.
Now, here are some other updates:
Budget season is heating up!
As you know, my top priorities are public safety, infrastructure, and tax relief. Currently, the proposed budget addresses all three — but there could be some additional changes coming soon.
For example, your city property tax rate will be at least a little bit lower during the next budget cycle after a city council vote Wednesday to lower the tax ceiling. I was on the losing side of a close 8–7 vote last week to cut the tax rate even more substantially. But there will be further discussions in the weeks ahead.
Funding for other investments — such as parks improvements, environmental sustainability efforts, and affordable housing — also likely will be prominently featured in the upcoming discussions, especially with hundreds of millions in federal funds available.
The city council next week will have its first meeting to talk about proposed amendments to the budget. If you haven’t yet, make sure to give your councilmembers your feedback about what you want to see during the upcoming fiscal year, which begins October 1.
Remember, this is your budget and your tax dollars at work. The budget should reflect your priorities.
Park of the Month
The Park of the Month for August 2021 is Peter Pan Park in Northwest Dallas!
Peter Pan is a 9.9-acre neighborhood park that was first established in 1969. It is located near the intersection of Royal and Marsh Lanes and along Joe’s Creek.
It was nice to visit the park recently while up in the area for a meeting. Neighborhood parks such as Peter Pan are vital to the city’s communities. Gathering places like this one help to add character and vibrancy to Dallas neighborhoods while also encouraging recreation.
And they have fun amenities, such as these “trains.” William, George, and Lela are going to love them when they visit.
You should go out and see Peter Pan Park, too, when you have the chance. Dallas parks help keep everyone young at heart.
The city council on Wednesday unanimously approved the appointment of Jesse D. Oliver, who formerly served as a state district judge and as a member of the Texas House of Representatives, to chair the city’s Redistricting Commission.
The Commission is important to ensuring you are well-represented in local government. Commissioners will use newly available 2020 U.S. Census data to recommend new political boundaries for the city’s 14 council districts. The map, which requires approval from three-fourths of the city council, would go into effect during the next city council election cycle, which is slated for May 2023.
I nominated Judge Oliver for the position earlier this month. He served in the Texas House from 1983–1986 and was recognized by Texas Monthly as one of the best legislators in 1985. His distinguished career also includes stints as an attorney in private practice, a judge in the 95th Judicial District Court in Dallas County, the general counsel for the Texas Department of Agriculture, an Executive Assistant Attorney General for the State of Texas, Chairman of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Board of Directors, and Deputy Executive Director of DART.
Judge Oliver’s incredible range of experience in community leadership roles and legislative bodies will serve the Redistricting Commission well. He is the right man for this difficult job of ensuring that the city’s residents are represented fairly in their local government.
The Commission’s work will begin soon. It’s one of many crucial things happening this fall at City Hall. So, be sure to stay engaged!
That’s all for today. Enjoy your week, and protect your health. And please get vaccinated if you haven’t yet!