After the ban on camping in public spaces went into effect on Sept.1, homelessness is expected to change in Dallas County.
House Bill 1925 prohibits individuals from camping in public areas unless authorized. Authorized camping includes camping for recreational purposes or if the property has been approved for sheltering people experiencing homelessness.
“The Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA) will continue to be laser focused on making the experience of homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring,” MDHA CEO Jolie Robinson said. “That includes our unhoused neighbors who are having to utilize a temporary shelter in public spaces being sure our homeless neighbors are housed -- that we find housing for them, we do believe housing first and providing case management and wraparound services to those who may need it.”
Those who violate the new law may be charged with a class-c misdemeanor with a $500 fine after the officer gives the individual the option to leave, tells them where camping is allowed and educates them on resources available to help the homeless.
Cities will also be prohibited from utilizing parkland as temporary shelter locations.
The MDHA said they will also continue partnering with cities like Mesquite and Rowlett and other local nonprofits to help homeless residents find housing.
“MDHA already partners with local authorities, so it's not because of the house bill that we're partnering with the city of Dallas and other cities,” Robinson said. “It's the work of MDHA that we have been doing over several years, so there is a continued partnership and effort.”
As part of their continued partnership, the MDHA plans to implement outreach efforts to homeless residents camping in public.
Robinson said there is a network of nonprofit organizations called the Homeless Services and Rehousing System that help individuals find housing and get the resources they need to keep their housing.
“There's an opportunity to learn a bit more about the individual and what their needs are,” Robinson said. “First and foremost, it's about finding them housing and shelter then moving forward and figuring out what other services they need.”