Council presents resolution defines goals for addressing homeless concerns in city

Denison took an official stance on the city's homeless issue Monday night with the City Council adopting a resolution outlying goals and concerns the city has with addressing the problem.

Denison Mayor Janet Gott said at the start of the meeting that the public comments on the agenda item were moved to the discussion portion of the meeting.

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“I can't begin tell you how much time and thoughtfulness that has gone into this resolution,” Gott said. “It did not occur quickly or without thought. It is a universal problem. It doesn't exist just in our community. Many cities much larger with more resources, cities with decades trying to solve the problem with little success. We must approach it with the greater good at the forefront.”

Micah Blevins, missions and outreach coordinator for Waples United Methodist Church in Denison, addressed the council.

“I work with Waples outreach,” Blevins said. “I currently serve as vice president on the HEAT (Homeless Empowerment Action Team) board. Our goal is to provide a hand up to empower not enable. To give dignity and hope and accountability. It is something we need to look at or find a solution. We thank you for partnering with us.”

The initiative, known as HEAT, is a coalition of church leaders and private citizens seeking ways to improve the lives of the individuals facing homelessness.

Pete Orta, representing Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church was among the citizens that spoke to the council.

“We need to shape it correctly,” Orta said. “I am not against any homeless effort. There needs to be rules that not only serve them but also the community. If the community gets burned by it, they will no longer want to serve. We have to put a system in place some boundaries in place in the beginning so we are not cleaning up more than we are able to.”

He thinks the resolution is smart and humane and believes the mayor has good wisdom in the issue.

“We have a responsibility to the citizens as well,” Orta said. “It goes from theft to murder. Knowing business owners on Main Street, there is a lot of fear that goes on. It is very concerning. The first thing we need to realize is location is everything. Main Street is being neglected.”

The talks between the city and the HEAT began in April following the city posting no-trespassing signs at homeless communities around town. The city wanted to make its intentions clear when it comes to the homelessness issue around town, and Monday's resolution was in line with the action taken earlier in the year.

Rex said the city will only support strategies and action that will reduce, not grow, the homeless population.