Denison’s city leaders have ruled out a central hub for the homeless as a part of the city’s plans to address the homeless issue. City officials have said they would still like to work with community organizations to address the issue.
The city Council adopted a resolution stating what the city’s goals are regarding the growing housing crisis in the city. The resolution didn’t provide any firm plans the city wishes to consider.
Recently Denison City Manager Jud Rex defined what those plans would look like, while punting the issue back to the community to handle.
Recently, the city has been communicating with the Homeless Empowerment Action Team to find solutions to the problem.
“The first step is working together,” Rex said. “Some of it is taking place now. Some of it is not. We have a lot of resource providers that are doing good work. They are doing good things but they are not sharing a vision of trying to reduce homelessness in Denison. They are doing their ministry in a box not necessarily working together toward a common goal.”
He used Center Cross Ministry Soup Kitchen as an example saying the city wants to know what can be done on their end to help improve the homeless situation.
“Rather than providing meals to the homeless, are there ways we can work with the homeless to pull them out of the situation they are in?” Rex said.
Rex said there is no catch-all solution at this time, and the community partners need to develop an action plan that sets goals that reduce the homeless population in the city.
“Our encouragement to HEAT and other resource providers is to work together to better the situation we’re in right now rather then start a new program,” Rex said.
The city has two points it wants to address with the HEAT and its partners. The first is the central hub idea, a place for the homeless to gather. The city is against this measure.
“For now it (the hub) is entirely off the table from the city’s perspective,” Rex said. “I won’t speak for HEAT. Until the situation warrants. Not at this time. There is a tremendous amount of resources provided by the community right now there is not a need for the city to supplement those.”
The second thing the city wants to get across to HEAT and its partners is the city doesn’t want to use its resources but rather encourage the various ministries to the homeless to better work together to find solutions. He emphasized the city’s goal is to get people who are homeless get on their feet not to enable them.
Rex said the city made its point clear with the recent resolution it adopted which outlined the goals the city has. The resolution speaks of keeping the homeless population from growing. It also states the city doesn’t want to see too many organizations spring up to address the issue.
The city is against spending tax-payer money to address the needs of the homeless community.
Rex didn’t know how many homeless people the city has and said firm numbers are hard to come by.
“There is a lot we can do to improve the lives of the homeless that is where the emphasis should be,” Rex said. We look forward to continuing to work with HEAT and other resource providers to better the homeless situation in Denison. We want to support reducing homelessness in Denison.”
The city has been having continued meetings with HEAT to stay informed of the changing needs of those involved, and Rex said the city is putting the onus on HEAT To coordinate with the other community outreach organizations to find solutions.
“The city is not in the homeless business as it were,” Rex said. “HEAT and its partners are. They know the subject matter better and they can facilitate the solutions.”
What do you think abou the city’s response to homelessness in Denison? Let Denison area reporter Richard A. Todd know at RTodd@HeraldDemocrat.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @RichardAToddHD.