City leaders are a bit schizophrenic when it comes to the cluster of homeless shelters on East Lancaster Avenue. They created the centralized complex and herded the city’s homeless people there primarily to reduce the amount of vagrancy downtown.

Needless to say, Eastside residents and business owners weren’t happy. More than 2,000 people are homeless in Fort Worth each day, and many end up at shelters and missions. Homeless advocates say centralized services can benefit that population. Nearby residents, however, complain about loitering, vagrancy, crime rates, and lower property values.

City officials created a 10-year-plan to end homelessness, calling in part for decentralizing the homeless community. Fort Worth is now five years into that plan, but little appears to have been done toward that goal. And city council members this week voted to amend a site plan to transform the one-story, 7,000-square-foot Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County into a four-story, 40,000-square-foot building. Razing and rebuilding the mission had been approved earlier this year, but city staff discovered the original site plan limited the building to a single story. On Dec. 11, the Fort Worth Zoning Commission recommended amending the site plan. Six days later, the city council approved the amendment.


Eastsiders felt duped.

“We never received any phone calls, e-mails, or mail from [mission officials],” said Mike Phipps, code enforcement chairman with the nearby West Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association. “It was disappointing.”

Mayor Betsy Price’s vow to revisit the 10-year-plan and include Eastsiders in the discussion was met with skepticism by residents who didn’t appreciate how city officials rushed the amendment through the voting process with little fanfare.

Mission officials wanted to get the amendment past the zoning commission and city council before year’s end to avoid potentially losing a tax credit on the $8.2 million construction job. But poor planning on their part isn’t an excuse for fast-tracking the proposal and leaving the neighborhood out of the loop, Phipps said.

Meanwhile, city officials are ignoring their own vision for the area, or at least the vision it has on paper, he said.

“The biggest concern is that they are going totally against the 10-year plan, which is to disperse the homeless,” Phipps said. “It’s better to decentralize and break it up some. We’re going into the sixth year of the 10-year plan, and we haven’t had a decrease ever.”

The area lies in council member Kelly Allen Gray’s district. She was the only one to vote against the site plan amendment.


  1. Thank you for this story, the ST wasn’t as balanced on the issue and my response.

    The eastside neighborhoods are OVER saturated due to every surrounding city bringing their homeless to FW, we cannot continue allowing this. Our tax dollars are being drained caring for all of the surrounding cities homeless and our neighborhoods are paying dearly by this action. I personally feel this act is not discouraged by organization leaders partly because they receive a paycheck as long as there is such a need and the numbers continue to increase by the day. Some of the surrounding cities that are dropping off their homeless are not even in Tarrant County. The cost to the Fort Worth tax payers is no concern for these cities because once they are dropped off in our neighborhood the problem is no longer theirs nor a cost to them. If every apartment complex and every church in the city of F.W. were to house or adopt on person, one family we could end homelessness in our city but instead we continue doing the same old thing and expecting different results. The bourdon that this issue has placed on our eastside neighborhoods is no concern to anyone as long as it isn’t in their neighborhood. You paint those of us who spoke out as being negative or insensitive to the issue of homelessness which is not at all the message that we took to the Mayor and council, rather the opposite. One area of the city cannot take on such a huge problem and it is time that other cities in the county begin taking responsibility for their homeless and surrounding counties start creating plans of their own so we can begin to reverse the trend that has plagued our precious eastside neighborhoods. We have suffered long enough and it is time we the eastside start speaking out. It appears that we will agree to disagree on this subject until every council district in the city takes on their share of the problem. This extreme problem is not a District 8 problem nor an eastside problem, it is a city wide, county wide, state wide problem and we must treat as such.

  2. I’m new to Texas and Fort Worth and I’ve lived in several states and several different cities around the country and I’ve never seen so many charities and homeless shelters in such a short distance from each other. It’s very depressing. You drive down East Lancaster and there are tents and homeless people sleeping under trees and I once saw a homeless couple having sex while laying on top of a makeshift mattress. Fort Worth should be ASHAMED!