Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Community Court for homeless held at The Stewpot

175 homeless participants came ready to work off Class C misdeamanor violations by performing community service work offered through a City of Dallas Community Court for the homeless held at the Stewpot on Saturday, June 26. Community service organizations provided counseling and volunteer work opportunities to satisfy conditions of the alternative sentencing program imposed as a result of a guilty plea.

One of the most critical issues facing many in the homeless community is the need to resolve legal problems. A criminal record can prevent individuals from getting employment or qualifying for housing. To meet this need, the Dallas Municipal Courts, the Dallas City Attorney’s office, and private attorneys in collaboration with The Stewpot provide complete Class C misdemeanor case resolution (other than thefts and assaults) with periodic Community Court opportunities.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fort Worth’s Directions Home Plan and Permanent Supportive Housing

The City of Fort Worth released a report on the success of their Directions Home Plan. The Impact Of Permanent Supportive Housing On Fort Worth Neighborhoods report indicates Fort Worth has had positive outcomes with their program and a positive effect on neighborhoods where permanent supportive housing is located, concluding that the presence of permanent supportive housing neither detracts from nor flat lines the growth in value of parcels in closest proximity.

Read the report

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

DHA announces good news on housing homeless

Some very positive news was released yesterday in this DMN article. Dallas Housing Authority plans to open 160 homes for homeless, formerly jailed With help from DHA, Dallas is gaining ground reaching it's goal to end homelessness in our city. Read all about it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Need for housing at critical point

An article of interest is in today's DMN placing emphasis on the immediate need for housing to relieve the increasing number of people seeking help at the Bridge homeless assistance center. The Stewpot/First Presbyterian Church is planning to help through development of their proposed EVERgreen residences.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mornings at The Stewpot

If you were to drive by the Stewpot before 8 o’clock any weekday morning, there’s always a crowd. I’m often asked about all the women and children. What’s that all about?

I answer this frequently asked question by saying look at the Park Avenue side of the building, the line that extends from the entrance door north; the line with the women and children is the line for our Methodist neighbors on the 2nd floor: Crossroads Community Services. The people are there for the food pantry.Crossroads operates the largest food pantry in the City of Dallas. Last year they distributed over 2 million pounds of food.

Now the line that extends from the south side of the Park Avenue entrance to the building, is the line for the Stewpot. Together, well over 300 people are waiting for the door to open; some start to line up around 5 or 6 in the morning.When the door opens there is a rush of humanity. Into the Stewpot surges that southside line. Many come in for morning coffee; 200 cups disappear quickly on one side of the main room. But those who need help forego the coffee and line up on the other side of the room. They are there for all sorts of reasons: help to get a state id card; they need clothes; or hygiene products; they need to make a dental appointment, they need to see a caseworker.

When the door opens and the outside crowd makes its way inside there is often three long lines formed inside at points merging. I guess waiting in line is simply a fact of life wherever life finds you. But I think it’s safe to say there’s far more waiting in line at the bottom than there is at the top. The day after President’s Day as the lines were formed to lighten things up, we were going to honor our Presidents and I asked if there were any former living Presidents of the United States in line. After some shock and of course no response I asked if there were any dead former Presidents, and then called out specific names: Is George Washington here? Is Warren G. Harding present with us today? I avoided paging Woodrow Wilson, because we actually have a Woodrow Wilson, but when I called for Millard Fillmore, I’m pretty sure I heard someone croak: “Here I am.” Last week I paged Donald Trump and Jennifer Aniston; both were no shows. But Donald Trump was given several additional pages on the PA system and after his final no-show page the room was instructed that if he’s spotted at the Stewpot: “Tell’m he’s fired!”

I’ll often stand near the front desk when people arrive and try to direct people to the correct line and try to answer quick questions that never seem to have quick and easy answers. I’ve gotten into a routine when the lines are settled in place, to take five of so books from the free book and magazine shelves. Much thanks to Trent Briscoe and his Eagle scout project we have been blessed with an incredible variety of books. The featured books get highlighted; sometimes if there’s someone who stands out -- a man with red shoes, maybe someone we know who’s facing some real difficult challenge --they’ll be singled out and awarded a special book. “This wonderful book with a brilliant silver cover will be bestowed on anyone who happens to be wearing red shoes and has a blanket over their head.” And someone we have known for over 20 years shuffles up beaming with pride and from under the blanket I hear in all sincerity: “I didn’t know this was Christmas and I was never given a book by a church.” Then the bright silver covered book disappears under the blanket and he walks away beaming.

A couple of weeks ago I got a letter from someone in prison. These letters come all the time and I always write back. This one letter stands out because it began. “Rev. Buchanan, you’ll remember me because when we were all crowded in the Stewpot waiting for lunch to begin you asked over the microphone if there was anyone in the Stewpot with blue hair.” The writer was thrilled to remind me that he was the guy with the blue hair and I told him that day his meal was free.

At a quiet moment, between President recognition day and red shoe specials and book moments, I found tucked away in the shelves just the hardcover binding of a book. The innards -- all the printed pages that make a book a book -- were missing. What was left was the front, spine and back cover to a Bible. We’ve featured Bibles in the book moments before but this was a unique opportunity. I announced: “Here we have the front and back and spine of the Holy Bible. Maybe, it’s a do it yourself Bible; what you put between the covers is going to be up to you!” A hand shot up from one of the crowded tables and a gentle man who we’ve known for years wore the biggest smile and called out: “I want that Bible cover”.

And I have a good idea what will go back within the remnants of that skinned Bible.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Part of homeless solution in Dallas may be EVERgreen Residences

In partnership between Graham Greene, an architect known for building two of Dallas's most successful supportive housing projects and First Presbyterian Church, The Stewpot is addressing housing of formerly homeless individuals in developing the EverGREEN supportive housing complex. Read the Street Zine article posted online at Pegasus News describing the proposed housing. The article details the planned housing to dispel a rumor that it is a shelter.