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Dallas' Homeless Find A Place to Sleep -- in a Downtown Church's Parking Lot

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Dallas' reputation as one of the "meanest cities" in the country when it comes to its treatment of the homeless is either cemented or softened with this Associated Press story: Every night, the First Presbyterian Church on Park Avenue downtown is allowing up to 150 homeless folks to sleep in the church's parking lot -- which is to say, on the pavement. (That is but a small percentage of the estimated homeless in Dallas: Recent stats put the figure at 5,163.) Homelessness, says First Presbyterian's Rev. Joe Clifford, "is a social problem and requires a societal response."

Local law-enforcement officials aren't terribly fond of the move: Vince Golbeck, Dallas Police Department Deputy Chief, tells the AP, "A majority of property crimes in downtown Dallas are caused by the homeless," and that the department is going to look into whether the church has the proper permits for the sleepover. But the very organization responsible for the report about how Dallas and other cities criminalize homelessness is on board: Says Michael Stoops, acting executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, the church "should be applauded." --Robert Wilonsky

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