A homeless man in Texas was taking advantage of the changing sunny weather so he could dry his pair of pants on a fence that was parallel to Saint Paul Street downtown. It was one of those crisp December days. About six tents were seen below the tiny embankment between the service road on I30 and Dallas Heritage Village. For just a few weeks, the homeless man had been given a place to stay there in the tent. However, he had to pay a few bucks, but most of the homeless people there received donation of certain necessary items from various church groups. The homeless man was happy for the chance to sleep under a tent since it allowed him to throw away the cardboard mat that he had once used for sleeping under the adjoining underpass.
James, as was his name, was pleased to speak to the media about his background and how he got to be homeless in American. He was from Kenya and came to the United States in the 1980s. He got hooked on drugs and was able to get clean and got into the church. However, he was not so lucky in securing a place of his own to stay. He spoke about being ticketed for sleeping on the streets repeatedly.
Believe it or not, in the state of Texas, public sleeping or even dozing off in public is illegal. If someone were to sleep or doze off in the street, park, alley or any other public location such as the highway or empty lot adjacent to a public street, it would be an offense. James, the homeless man was caught on the Scottish Rite Temple twice and the First Presbyterian Church steps once. He was also caught while trying to find shelter from the rain when he went below the Deep Ellum underpass. James indicated that he had earned six violations for sleeping in public. He did not go to court and is sure that he has also earned a warrant for not showing up for his court appearance. However, he shrugged it off because he would rather not show up and get arrested so he can have a place to stay when arrested!
Another homeless man called Sarge also spends time on Main Street Garden when the sun is out. He loves to listen to his small boombox where classic rock music is his first love. Sarge drank liquor from a disposable cup and talked about being homeless for more than twenty years. He, like, James will often sleep where he can and most times, it is in public. He indicated that he received approximately seventy five tickets for violating the illegality of public sleeping.
Public sleeping has earned its illegal status since the 1990s. It was at that time that an increasing number of homeless individuals graced the streets of Dallas, Texas. The city instituted an ordinance by setting specific curfews for going to public parks and made it illegal to engage in things like rummaging through trash cans, panhandling and drinking in public. The city also put a ban on encampments and would take drastic bulldozing measures to break them down. Many are debating on the controversial ordinances, but the city has the last say.