Council should adopt homeless housing plan

Fort Worth’s East Lancaster Avenue near downtown has become the “homeless district” because of the number of emergency shelters and services that aid individuals and families without permanent housing.

In addition to the three main shelter facilities, two new projects to house families are under construction.

And while many east side residents complain that their neighborhoods are negatively affected by the concentration of street people in one area, it is beneficial that convenient services are available for the homeless, who tend to have multiple problems that contribute to their inability to obtain and maintain permanent housing.

The real solution to the growing number of homeless is to find permanent supportive housing for more people, an issue Fort Worth leaders have been working on for years. And the Fort Worth City Council, acting on recommendations from a task force appointed last August, is likely to make another major step toward that end.

Councilman Danny Scarth, who has represented part of the east side for 10 years, reported on the task force’s suggestions, which he said should help negate some of the pressure from residents who express “NIMBY” (not in my back yard) concerns.

Recommendations for permanent supportive housing include having it dispersed throughout Tarrant County; located in predominantly residential neighborhoods with surrounding property values that are stable or rising; having a variety of social, commercial and health facilities on site; having it accessible to public transportation and other community resources.

The group also recommended that the city allocate $100,000 from its $3 million budget for homelessness to help with future housing projects.

Many neighborhoods have objected to the location of public or other low-income housing in their communities for fear of increased crime and decreased property values.

The task force proposals address some of those worries, but it will be up to council members and other public officials to communicate with residents in areas where such housing will be located to help alleviate those fears.

Fort Worth has taken an aggressive proactive approach in dealing with homelessness, and the council should continue that plan by adopting the task force recommendations at its June 2 meeting.