A Bridge to Hope

Yesterday, I attended the ribbon-cutting for “The Bridge,” also known informally as the new Homeless Assistant Center. I was floored and humbled.

I felt embarrassed to drive my car to the front of the building. I’m not knocking those who did, but I just left a sick feeling in my stomach. I parked a little ways away and walked to the entrance.

As I approached the entrance, I saw hundreds of homeless people that were watching us walk past them to go into the courtyard, all silent but watching. I stopped for a bit to say hello to everyone; immediately their eyes lit up and they all said hello and smiled. I wonder how many times someone speaks to them in a day. I know now that a beautiful place will await them to give them the services that they need.

I’m glad I voted for the 2005 proposition to fund this center via city bond funds. I knew we had to have this center. The way things were being done in Dallas was simply not working.

Last December (when we on the City Plan Commission voted to temporarily extend the permit on the Day Resource Center), the excitement started to kick in for me. That’s when I knew that the Bridge would soon be a reality.

I have written many posts about the homeless situation in Dallas since I started this blog. This phrase comes to mind when I think about the new center.

In my interactions with homeless people, I have found some of them to be highly intelligent and capable of surviving on their own. They just need a place to stay to stabilize themselves. How can you get a job if you have no address? There are street people that can’t get their veterans’ checks or SSI checks because of this.

I talked yesterday with one of the tour guides that told me about an overlooked but important fact. The Bridge can accept mail for the people it serves. This is a major step in stabilizing people that do not want to be on the street. Unscrupulous people can no longer steal their benefits check, and people can now work on getting jobs since they can put an actual address on a job application.

There are so many resources and services that are now available in one place. A pharmacy, mental health counseling, legal services, and community service supervision is available. A full list can be found on the Metro Dallas Housing Alliance website (link).

Larry James, whom I was glad to see yesterday, wrote a great post this morning poking fun at those who thought that downtown would disintegrate if this center was built. As he accurately pointed out, more developments are being announced within walking distance of this facility.

This facility is the beginning of an era in which Dallas will be viewed nationwide as an example of how to properly address the homeless epidemic that is grappling our cities.

The picture I chose to post (from the DMN), which shows a man doing his laundry, is significant to me. Most homeless aren’t asking for anything special; just a sense of stability and dignity. Now people can have clean clothes to go to try and get a job, or can feel presentable enough to seek out their family.

A shot at dignity, and an opportunity to reestablish their lives. The Bridge isn’t a cure-all for homelessness, but it’s a great step in the right direction.

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