Mike Rawlings and Mike Faenza of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance briefed the City Plan Commission this morning regarding the city's goal of diverting those living in homeless shelters into 700 new units of permanent supportive housing. Their appearance was timely after last night's brutal weather caused the city to temporarily house overflow from local shelters in the Samuell Grand Recreation Center.
"It looks like between city outreach, The Bridge and the other shelters pushing their capacity, we kept people from freezing to death," Faenza tells Unfair Park.
Rawlings, the city's homeless czar, says local media should have focused on how well the area shelters coordinated to ensure everyone had a warm place to sleep last night.
"I'm a little bit upset at Jay Gormley and The Morning News because there's probably only 15 or 20 people that want to stay and sleep outside, and they focused on those folks."
Reaching the city's permanent supporting housing goal is "all about politics," Rawlings says, as the city council faces tough calls with constituents unwilling to allow affordable housing in their neighborhoods.
"When those neighbors say, 'I don't care what you say. I don't want 'em,' as a kid would say, they've got to say, 'Look, it's the right thing to do.'"
He doesn't expect zoning to be an issue; it's approval of the tax credits that end up being the stumbling block. "Without those, we don't have the economics to do it," Rawlings says. "That's the power the citizens have."
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Another concern is the power council members have over their own districts, which was exposed in the recent City Hall corruption trial. "We've got to figure out how we can do a better job of checks and balances," he says.
When asked about his status as a potential mayoral candidate should his friend Mayor Tom Leppert run for U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's seat assuming she resigns as promised, the former Pizza Hut exec blushed and said, "Stop! Stop!"
And how many calls did he get after the news broke?
"Too many. Too many. Too many."