Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Jerry Springer Show Comes to the Cliff

Welcome to the Jerry Springer Show! The only thing last night's Town Hall Meeting in Oak Cliff lacked was chair throwing and hair pulling. For the first time in 22 years, I'm embarrassed to say I live in Oak Cliff. I'm embarrassed NOT because people are against this project, but because of the way they have been allowed to act about the issue. MDHA and DHA have done a terrible job working with Oak Cliff on this issue.....that is crystal clear. There are, however, several things that are NOT clear to me.

Such as:
  • Why did Dave Neumann front load the question line with citizens he knew are adamantly opposed to this project? Those of us who might have had voices of reasons didn't stand a chance and would have had to stay til midnight to get a word in edgewise.
  • Why hasn't Mr. Neumann met with citizens in Oak Cliff who either support the project or at least are not rabidly opposed to it? He has met only with those persons who are railing against the project. I've heard no call or request from him to hear the other side.
  • Why did Mr. Neumann allow the meeting to degenerate so quickly? As facilitator, he had a great opportunity to show his leadership as a representative of Oak Cliff. He failed miserably.
  • Why hasn't MDHA and DHA put together an educational power point showing research outcomes for permanent supportive housing and the impact on surrounding neighborhoods? The citizens of Oak Cliff are badly informed about this and need good, solid, credible information.
  • Why haven't MDHA, DHA, and LifeNet put together a formal presentation on how Cliff Manor will change for the better, exactly what services will be offered (kind, quantity, quality, frequency, etc.) and the impact it will have on the neighborhood? When asked those questions last night, the answers were vague and useless.
  • Why didn't Bob Stimson check his research on the saturation of group homes in Oak Cliff? The saturation in Oak Cliff is from unlicensed and/or illegal group homes, hotels, and flop houses; which I would fight against just as hard as anyone. Cliff Manor is not one of these.
  • If Mr. Neumann knew about this project for a full year, why wasn't he talking about it much sooner?

It's pretty bad when opponents of this project come to the table with more facts and figures (even if they are inaccurate) than the promoters of the project. This is definitely a lesson in how NOT to move permanent supportive housing into a neighborhood.

It is critical for those of us who support these projects to be totally prepared with excellent educational materials, credible facts, information on how the project will improve the surrounding neighborhood, and to be able to second-guess objections and answer them BEFORE the shouting starts. Just because DHA has the ability to move forward with this project without approval from the neighborhood, that is no excuse for inadequate preparation, unconcerned attitudes about neighborhood reaction, and re-iteration of federal law.

On the other hand, just because the introduction of this project has been handled very poorly, that is NO excuse for the behavior of my neighbors that occurred last night. I hold Mr. Neumann partially responsible for allowing it to occur, but ultimately, each citizen is responsible for his or her behavior. I think we need some lessons in manners!

In the end, if we are going to end chronic homelessness in Dallas through permanent supportive housing, which I totally support, we are going to have to do a MUCH better job of educating our neighbors and building strong relationships with ALL the neighborhoods in Dallas. Nobody likes surprises or having something crammed down their throat.


  1. "Those of us who might have had voices of reasons didn't stand a chance"... so anyone who doesn't share your view is not reasonable? Please explain and if you are so embarrassed to be down here why don't you move up to North Dallas with all of the more compassionate people. Give me a break.

  2. Anonymous, no reasonable points could be heard because of the screaming, interrupting, and booing. The style in which this topic was addressed totally eclipsed any substance.

  3. Dr. Boorhem, I am sorry that you didn't take the opportunity to express your views. Once I managed to read past your inflammatory Jerry Springer reference, I was surprised to see a lot of very informed and helpful observations. As a resident of Stevens Park Village, I am very passionate about this issue. I can't excuse the behavior of some, but the speakers from the audience were treated with respect. Even the formerly homeless man and woman were congratulated by the crowd for their successes in their recoveries. Next time, please hold your ground and help to educate us. We are not against the homeless. We just don't believe the homeless, because they are homeless, deserve to victims of an ill-conceived and poorly executed plan by our leaders.

  4. Dr. Boorheim (and what is that Dr. in, by the way?) we agree on one thing. I'm embarrassed to say you live in Oak Cliff, too.

    In a dozen years of community activism in Oak Cliff, I have never been prouder of my community than I was last night.

  5. In decades of community activism in Oak Cliff, I have never been more embarrassed of my community than I was last night.

    Oak Cliff leaders are addicted to self-pity.

  6. The town hall meeting was for NEIGHBORS to get their questions answered. There shouldn't have been ANYone on the "pro" side in that line taking time away from getting our questions anwered. It wasn't supposed to be a debate. Too bad the DHA and MDHA tried to rig it that way. Emails went out to members of a church to come down to the meeting and stack the deck in favor of this fiasco. Really sleazy tactics, especially for a church.

    Dr. Boorheim, do not ever doubt that we are ashamed of you too. I'm sure I can get the rest of the people who were prepared to picket Mary Ann "Ruse" 's house this weekend to help you pack instead.

  7. I always find it interesting when commentary is provided particularly the inflammatory versions and folks choose to remain anonymous. Clearly this is a very passionate topic that has broad implications for both positions, pro and con yet at the end of the day it requires a courageous voice to share their perspective and to do so without hiding in the shadows yet also have the ability to respect a different viewpoint. Effective activism is not about who shouts the loudest or is the most obnoxious yet it should be about the individual who is passionate, informed, and respectful of different points of view and can share there view point with a level of civility. Lets not be petty and unproductive as we try to work thorough a tough and difficult issue such as this ......

  8. 累死了…來去看看文章轉換心情~.................................................................