Eastsiders Continue to Complain about the Homeless

West Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association (WMNA) is asking for all Neighborhood Associations, Home Owners Associations, Alliances, etc., to join in sending letters to all Fort Worth City elected officers and other city staff asking that they act NOW.

The future of the Eastside is within our voice and we must speak loud today for the future to come.  Also share with all your association members and ask that they write and send letters too.

Editory's Note:  Our letter writing campaign was instrumental in successfully preventing a concrete crushing plant from building across the street from Gateway Park.)

 

Dear City Council:

For many years the Eastside of Fort Worth has dealt with the emergency shelter and homeless housing area located along East Lancaster. We have watched as homeless task forces come and go. We have signed on to recommendations for more supportive and dispersed housing, and then lost hope as those recommendations were shelved and ignored.

Meanwhile, expansion continued unabated in the shelter area with no resistance from the city. In fact, new facilities have been encouraged. Our area has held onto the vain hope that the City Council would act to limit or manage the influx of lost souls to our neighborhood.

Recently, the number of vagrants, homeless, illegal campers and transients has increased. The huddled masses come for expanded services and never seem to leave. Instead they roam our neighborhoods engaging in petty crime, increasing litter and discouraging businesses from entering or staying. They set up homes behind active business, under freeways, near creeks, and in parks presenting an ongoing danger to our community and the people who visit it.

We on the Eastside are tired of this situation.
We demand the following actions:

­Clean up the area NOW. Vagrants and transients have been observed engaging in sex acts in broad daylight. Homeless people roam through established neighborhoods, sleep in Tandy Hills Nature Preserve where families hike, openly use drugs and drink alcohol in public, and make the mass transit centers unusable.

 Our neighborhood insists on a security force paid for by the agencies serving the homeless to police the area constantly and to prevent people from lingering on the sidewalks or sleeping on the pavement overnight. In addition, the force would eliminate illegal camping.

 Agencies serving the homeless should be held accountable for the danger they are creating for others by allowing the homeless to linger on their premises. Crimes are occurring and something deadly will happen unless the city takes action.

Get on with supportive housing – no excuses.
We are in the eighth year of a 10-year plan to end homelessness. Instead of decreasing, the numbers of homeless are rising and an entire industry of service has grown up around them. If every church and apartment complex in the city would agree to adopt one homeless person or family, the number of homeless would drop immediately.  Commit to establishing supportive housing in EVERY district in 2017. The city should contract with apartment complex owners to commit one or two units per building to the resettlement of homeless residents.

Enact restrictions on the population in the shelter area. Establish a moratorium on any new investment in the area unless there is a written contract to reduce the number of people served over time. Millions of dollars are spent on caring for the homeless. Donations, tax dollars and grants pour into the area from many sources. And what has been accomplished? Homeless people from throughout the county gravitate to the Fort Worth to receive services.

It’s time to firmly reject any new transients from other cities and coordinate services for those who live in Fort Worth in an efficient manner. Isolating low-income populations in one area of a city is tantamount to segregation, which can be pursued in court as violation of civil rights.

Economic development. Invest in improvements along the Lancaster corridor as the city has done in downtown Fort Worth and Seventh Street. Encourage businesses to move in that are suitable for a growing neighborhood.

New residents are arriving daily – families, young people, and singles – who are priced out of other areas of the city. Our schools are improving and attracting students. The city must turn its eyes to the entryway to our city and commit to improvements. Stoplights and curbs are fine, but they don’t bring businesses to the area. As development in the downtown area proves, safety comes first, then business. Revise all zoning to encourage businesses to locate along Lancaster Avenue and streamline demolition of neglected or vacant properties.

Eliminate undesirable businesses from the area by revising zoning standards. Property values will increase as the homeless situation dissipates and more businesses move in. More tax dollars will flow to the city, a win-win for all.

At a recent meeting with representatives from several different service providers, MHMR, JPS, Veterans Administration, Catholic Charities “SOS” Street Outreach Services, Directions Home, FWPD, and Eastside N/A Presidents, Members of East Fort Worth Business Association, FW League of Neighborhoods and Neighborhoods of East Fort Worth, representatives shared their frustration with the situation that has evolved on East Lancaster. The group has one common call to action:  Convince the city to act aggressively and quickly.  If the city doesn’t act, the Eastside of Fort Worth is in danger of succumbing to the forces of increased crime, homelessness, economic blight and decline, leaving the city with less tax revenue and more illegal activity to police.

As a taxpayer in the City of Fort Worth, I have a right to expect more from my city. The East Side of Fort Worth has been patient. No more!

I demand that the city take the above actions immediately to resolve the growing problem along the East Lancaster corridor.

If Fort Worth can rebuild a downtown, expand a business district along Seventh Street, revitalize a blighted area through the Trinity River Project, and grow exponentially to the West, our city can eliminate the homeless issue on East Lancaster in a way that protects the gateway to our community and encourages expansion to the east.

Sincerely,

Public Letter to  Mayor Price,
Council Members, City Staff and others,

We were over in Fairmount this morning and coming back home we decided to take Lancaster. Coming through the shelter area as well East Lancaster, and I have to say the area is the worst I have ever seen it. The noticeable increase of vagrants, homeless, those practicing their right to remain nowhere, etc is EXTREMELY concerning.

It has increased so much to the point of embarrassment. Why does it seem the City of Fort Worth has turned their backs to this issue?

Eastside neighborhoods and its leadership teams have beat this drum for so long with so little change, it seems like nothing is being done but turning a blind eye.

Have each of you, Mayor and Council, City Manager and others who are responsible for addressing these issues –gone through this area at night, or first thing in the morning so you can truly get the real sense of what is going on?

Today I am most disappointed in our leadership over this issue. We are 8 years into a 10 year plan to END homelessness in our city and we are worse today than we were in 2008 when Directions Home was adopted.

What can city management share with us as to what you are really doing to address this issues? In my eyes it seems like there's been a lot of lip service with no real effort to address the true problem.

Truly disappointed.

Mike Phipps

What Does “The Season” Mean To You?

The Festive Season is on us once again, and with it comes all the hustle and bustle of hunting for just the right gift, planning and attending special functions and getting kids to their parties and events.  Rather than “festive,” it may be closer to “frantic”!

Of course, for many it is a special time of the year as they observe the denominational tradition of celebrating the birth of Jesus.  We should note, however, that no such observance is either taught or implied in Scripture.

For many others there is very little about “the season” that is merry.  All the fun and laughter and the family gatherings taking place about them only heightens their sense of loss.  The season serves as a sharp reminder of those who once made it special.

Scripture does emphasize a season, today!  Proverbs issues a warning, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth”  (27:1).  The New Testament makes it plain, “... behold, now is ‘THE DAY OF SALVATION’” (2 Corinthians 6:2).   Something you need to change, or good deed to perform, today is the day!

LAW OFFICE OF

Renee Higginbotham-Brooks

5601 Bridge Street, Suite 300, Fort Worth, TX 76112

(817) 334-0106 office

www.rhbrookslawoffice.com

email: brooks99@sbcglobal.net

 

Over 30 years experience in:

• Auto Accidents, Personal Injury, Wrongful Death

• Wills, Trusts, Power of Attorney

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East Fort Worth Business Association
2016 Outstanding Awards Banquet

The East Fort Worth Business Association was pleased to present five Scholarship Stipends to five outstanding High School Seniors representing the Eastside of Fort Worth.

Checks and Certificates were presented to:

Bennie Tarrant

Dunbar High School

 

Carmen Martinez

Eastern Hills High School

 

Keila Zavala

Polytechnic High School

 

Raquel Garcia Geary

Nolan Catholic High School

 

Alexandria Guerra

Fort Worth Can Academies

EFWBA was pleased to present the OUTSTANDING AWARD to the following people who do so much to make our side of town better:

 

2016 Outstanding Business of the Year:

Pearle Vision, Alex Nason, owner

2016 Outstanding Organization of the Year:

Eastern Hills Homeowners Association

2016 Outstanding Educators of the Year:

Terri McGuire, Principal

Paula Brooks, Principal

2016 Outstanding Volunteer of the Year:

Elizabeth Cooper

2016 Outstanding Woman of the Year

Sharon Burran

2016 Outstanding Man of the Year:

Bill Schwennsen

 

There is more good news regarding our local students on the Neighborhood News page!

Citizen-scientists document living species at Tandy Hills Natural Area

Science nerds, nature lovers, adventurers and families spent an entire weekend documenting all living species at Tandy Hills Natural Area, a 160-acre urban prairie just east of downtown Fort Worth.

The 36-hour BioBlitz event was held in April and attracted scientists and naturalists from across Texas who supervised photo documentation and data collection. Residents and visitors made their own contributions via the iNaturalist web app while exploring the biodiversity of the park.

Here’s what the team counted:

    350 flowering plants

    163 insects

    32 birds

    10 arachnids

    10 mammals

    9 reptiles

    8 fungi

    4 mollusks

    1 amphibian

 

BioBlitz was intended to motivate and encourage community engagement at the park, and to generate data that will serve as a permanent scientific record for managing Tandy’s natural resources.

Fort Worth Needs a Tiny Home Village! One for Millenials & Retirees who want to live tiny, another to help end Homelessness!

Dear Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and City Council Members, Homeless Commission & Zoning Commission Members

Why can't we find a place here in the city (but NOT on the Eastside) to build a tiny home village like this?

Here is a story about a group in Missouri who have found a way to solve homelessness for Veterans. There is a similar community just down the road in Austin that you can use as your "feasibility case study."

My suggestion is to start the first community for homeless in an industrial area with a structure that could be converted to a community resources center/ kitchen and showers. It would put these houses in a job-central location, away from traditional residential locations.

Another Tiny Home Village area should be created for all the retirees who want to downsize but do not want to live in an apartment or retirement home, and for millenials who cannot afford traditional housing, but want to settle down and establish roots in a community of smaller, more affordable homes.

Both age groups are looking for a legal, zoned just for them location to park their tiny homes. Zoning needs to consider this housing trend in housing and get on it while the housing market has little competition for tiny villages.

Fort Worth could be the national leader in Tiny Home Villages, and infill the city with tax paying citizens! Over 60 THOUSAND people attended the Tiny Home Jamboree, a 3-day weekend event this summer in Colorado Springs, showcasing small cottage size homes, many on trailer frames to be mobile. Commercial tiny home builders and DIY kit manufacturers were there.  Sixty thousand attendees is a small sampling of just how many people are interested in living in a tiny home!!

I have been promoting this idea for a Tiny Home Village since I discovered tiny homes a few years ago. (I plan to have one built to my specifications when I retire.)

Even allowing 4 tiny homes to share one traditional lot would help with urban infill and provide a low cost housing option. Four tiny homes on one lot would use as much water as a family of 5 in a single traditional home.

 

Here is another article about a tiny home community for veterans that's completely finished in St. Petersburg.

"But wait, there's more!"

Texas Monthly (magazine & website) reported on this tiny home village near Amarillo:

http://www.texasmonthly.com/the-daily-post/texas-using-tiny-houses-solve-big-problem/

"The benefits of housing the homeless in tiny homes are manifold: they’re cheap and quick to construct, aesthetically quaint, environmentally friendly, and save cities tens of thousands of dollars with each person who gets to live in one. Thanks to donations and volunteers, Denning’s home in Amarillo will cost just $2,000 for Yellow City Community Outreach, the non-profit organization building his tiny abode. According to the Globe-News, this is the first of many tiny homes Yellow City hopes to build in Amarillo."

 

The tiny village for the homeless in Austin is called Community First Village. Here is their website: http://mlf.org/community-first/.

I think several smaller versions of this could be located in each quadrant of Fort Worth without disrupting existing housing values. The villages could be futuristic, implementing solar power and LED lighting, organic gardening, upcycling craft center & retail store.

ONCE people have a real roof over their head, and a door they can shut an lock (something they never get in a shelter situation) then they are no longer HOMELESS.

Now they are just poor, in need of many medical and social services, but not out roaming the streets, resorting to crime to survive.

We should treat our fellow human better than we do pets and livestock.

Please implement this idea! Let me know how I can help.  –KEK

Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald shows one of the enhanced ballistic vests that will be purchased with a major donation from a local firm.

Fort Worth business contributes funds for enhanced ballistic vests for FWPD

The Mallick Group, a Fort Worth real estate and energy investment firm, is donating $355,000 to the Fort Worth Police Department SWAT Support Group to purchase 900 enhanced ballistic vests for front-line officers and graduating recruits. These vests offer protect against high-velocity rounds and armor-piercing ammunition.

The donation launched the Protect the Fort initiative, which is coupled with a holiday call to action by the Mallick Group to residents, organizations and businesses to help protect those who protect our community. Additional contributions will be used to purchase enhanced ballistic helmets and other protective equipment for Fort Worth police officers.

“This generous donation from the Mallick Group exemplifies both the incredible community support for our first responders and the strong culture of public-private partnerships that we are blessed with in Fort Worth,” said Mayor Betsy Price. “I’m excited to see the Protect the Fort initiative open the door for others to tangibly give back to our officers. I trust that these vests will not only provide additional protection for our police force, but also convey to our officers that we as a community support their sacrifice to Fort Worth.”

Co-chairmen of the Protect the Fort effort are former Mayor Mike Moncrief and his wife Rosie, and Gary and Marilyn Randle, who are affiliated with Hope Farm Inc.

“This donation inspires our department and provides a level of support that may not be as evident in other major cities,” Chief Joel Fitzgerald said. “It is our hope that others will answer the call to action of the Protect the Fort initiative by participating in this endeavor with the goal of augmenting the safety of all public servants.”

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