Five stories that have North Texas talking: A new commission will work on long-term housing strategies for Dallas homeless; a former New Yorker reflects on what makes Texas unique; McKinney ISD got the green light on a multimillion-dollar football stadium; and more.
On Monday, Mayor Mike Rawlings announced the creation of a new commission to focus on long-term strategies to combat Dallas’ homelessness problem. The announcement comes a week after Tent City, the approximately 300-person community below Interstate-45 outside Downtown Dallas, was shut down.
The encampment was disbanded due to violence and public health concerns, but the majority of Tent City “residents” find themselves in an even more uncertain situation now that it no longer exists. About 50 residents have found more permanent living arrangements through service groups as of last week, KERA’s Stephanie Kuo reported.
The closure of Tent City, however, was a “small piece of the work” necessary to alleviating the homelessness problem, according to a City of Dallas press release. The Dallas Commission on Homelessness, lead by Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance Board Chair Britton Banowsky, plans to increase the “availability of affordable and supportive housing for homeless in Dallas.” Lack of shelter for the nearly 600 homeless in Dallas is the main issue plaguing outreach efforts currently underway, KERA News reported, and most of those unsheltered homeless don’t have identification or have an criminal record, making the process more difficult.
The new commission will present a plan to the city’s housing committee in August, The Dallas Morning News reported. “Rawlings has said a plan to add more permanent supportive housing in the city could be added to the next bond election.”
The members of the commission are still being appointed, but the group will have one person from each council district as well as a representative for Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. Read more. [KERA News, City of Dallas, The Dallas Morning News]
- “You don’t just move to Texas. It moves into you.” Manny Fernandez, a reporter The New York Times, relocated from Brooklyn to Houston in June 2011, and in those nearly five years he’s observed the unique state pride that exudes from all corners of the massive state. But some Texans feel this sense of pride is under attack, he says, and that being Texan through and through is the best defense “But Texas is not under attack. It is merely changing as America changes with it. It is a majority-minority state that has become increasingly diverse and nonwhite — rural Texas is shrinking while urban and suburban Texas is expanding — and the tension between what Texas is and what it was has come to define the state.” Read more from “What Makes Texas Texas.” Listen to Manny’s conversation on Texas Standard. [The New York Times]
- A Dallas City Council committee made progress with potentially establishing an Urban Forestry Department. The Quality of Life Committee voted unanimously to recommend creating an environmental organization to the full council. The Dallas Morning News reported: “Larry Hochberg, chair of the advisory committee and member of the Park and Recreation Board, went to the council committee Monday to push for a fully funded, fully staffed department housed inside the Park and Recreation Department: 20 people at the price tag of $2,139,348.” Currently, the singular forester for the City of Dallas, Karen Woodward, is struggling to manage the myriad projects that need immediate and undivided attention: the Great Trinity Forest and citywide tree planting. The Morning News reported: “It’s not yet clear when the full council will get the Urban Forestry Department briefing.” Read more on what trees could do for Dallas. [The Dallas Morning News]
- McKinney’s building a $50-million, 12,000-seat high school football stadium. Plans for the stadium were put to a vote on Saturday as a part of a $220 million bond issue for the McKinney Independent School District. KXAS reported: “McKinney had just one high school in 1962 when the district built its current 7,000-seat stadium. The district, one of the fastest-growing in Texas, now has more than 24,500 students.” Before the bond went to a vote, KERA’s Stella M. Chávez reported: “In recent years, cities in Texas have generated headlines for their large, modern sports stadiums. Next door to McKinney, is Allen’s much-talked about $60 million dollar, 18,000-seat stadium. When it opened in 2012, many called it the most expensive high school stadium in the country. But two years later, it had to close because of structural problems. It reopened last June in time for graduation.” Read more about the project and the results of Saturday’s school bond elections across North Texas. [KXAS, KERA News]
- Dallas Architecture Forum will hold a free, public panel discussion on economics and architecture at 6:30 p.m. The discussion will revolve around last year’s major civil rights case: Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. According to the forum: “This case rendered Texas’ current affordable and low-income housing tax credit allocation unconstitutional, and its subsequent decision has forced many developers to reconsider their development strategies and will have architects re-examining what neighborhood context looks like.” KERA’s Jeff Whittington will moderate a conversation among Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs, Rev. Gerald Britt with City Square and two professors from UT Arlington. Here are more event details and Whittington’s radio interview with Rev. Britt. [Dallas Architecture Forum]