A vigil was held over the weekend in Dallas’ Vickery Meadow for a homeless refugee. Mohammad Adam died in his sleep while inside an art installation cube in the neighborhood on Jan. 15. Community advocates say his death points to a lack of support for refugees in Dallas.
Adam was a Sudanese refugee, who went by “Turkey” in Vickery Meadow, where he lived for about seven years. He was a man of few words, but friends who knew him liked him – friends like David Brhane, who is also homeless.
"I used to stay with him. I sleep with him. In the morning, we wake up, and we stay together all day," Brhane said in between tears. "I’m really upset about that, and I pray, I pray, I pray, I pray, I pray."
Community advocates say rising rents in Vickery Meadow led to Adam’s eviction from his apartment. Adam's body was found by another friend and fellow Sudanese refugee, David Mbusa, who had also been recently evicted and is now living in a homeless shelter in downtown Dallas.
Residents have long feared that redevelopment in Vickery Meadow would lead to rent hikes and force many of them out of the neighborhood. Friends say Adam also struggled with mental health challenges – trauma and a head injury – which made it difficult for him to maintain stable work and housing.
"All of us as a community have failed Mohammad and other people like him who are suffering and struggling to meet their basic human rights and day-to-day needs," said Sina Sabet, a community advocate. "So all of us need to come together and figure out how we can better these conditions and the lives of the people who live here. If not, no one else may really care."
The local art collective and community center, Trans.lation, is calling on the city and Dallas County to stand by statements that welcome refugees and immigrants. Advocates also want stronger protections for tenants, efforts to find affordable housing and more support for organizations that help refugees in Dallas.