The number of homeless children served by the Presbyterian Night Shelter last year was 635, a 67 percent increase from the same period in 2013. The number of mothers provided shelter at the facility was 305, an increase of 60 percent from the year before.
Those numbers demonstrate the obvious need for the shelter’s planned $8.4 million facility to serve women and children, which was announced Tuesday. And the fact that $7 million of the total cost already has been contributed shows the overall community support for the night shelter’s programs to serve the homeless.
But while these services are essential and an integral part of Fort Worth’s overall commitment to aid the homeless, it is understandable that some east side business and civic leaders scorn the idea of another shelter in their part of town.
The Lancaster Avenue corridor already has several shelters, along with a number programs — from MHMR to the Day Resource Center — that serve the city’s homeless.
Some community leaders have complained for decades that the east side is being abused, that the concentration of homeless facilities is a detriment to economic development, bad for property values and threatens the safety of neighborhoods.
The reality, of course, is that fighting homelessness requires more than just providing emergency shelter. Those on the street have myriad problems that must be addressed in a comprehensive way, with programs that are easily accessible.
The homeless are not going away anytime soon, so somehow the city, community and businesses must figure out a way to coexist in a way that benefits all.
Already some progress has been made in cleaning up the area, more residential housing has been built, new businesses are looking at Lancaster Avenue to build and the school district will locate its new Visual and Performing Arts Center and STEM Academy within blocks of the shelters.
For the homeless, the goal must be permanent housing throughout the city.
More is needed, and it will take community cooperation.