DALLAS - It is the community in the shadow of I-30 and 3rd Avenue in Dallas. The place known to many people as Tent City. A mobile community of homeless people now on the move again.
"At its largest, it was about 70 to 80 people," said Dave Hogan, who is with the Crisis Intervention Unit with Dallas Police. Hogan has been working with people on the fringe for 38 years.
He is one of many people charged with notifying the homeless at the I-30 and 3rd Avenue location that on Tuesday the city is closing the encampment.
"Once it reaches that critical mass, it's a real problem," he said.
This encampment was born out of the last encampment closure on Haskell.
Wayne Minatra, who has been homeless since December, is here for the Friday evening service by the Breath of Life Missions. Every Friday a generous group comes out to share the gospel and feed the homeless.
"Everybody is living to the best of their abilities on the very basic of situations," Minatra said.
This will be the last Friday homeless ministry service at this spot. But organizers tell WFAA they will move to the next encampment that the homeless decide to settle.
"I see souls, I see people hungry not just physically but spiritually," said Raul Mendez with Breath of Life Missions.
Hogan tells WFAA this location has been a problem area for the city. First, it was the fires up against I-30 bridge columns. He tells us Dallas Fire Rescue responds to the location for fires 4 to 5 times a week. Burn marks are evident on the bridge. Hogan says it threatens the integrity of the bridge.
Other issues that have come up at the encampment is drugs, prostitution, and the growing amount of trash. The area got a Hazmat cleaning two months ago.
"This place feels more like a community. People helping each other and knowing their neighbor than any other place," said Weldon Gillespie who's been homeless for three years and parked his $900 RV at the site.
What belongings are not packed up by Tuesday will be thrown away. It is very likely another encampment will open.
"We hope they won't. We hope they'll accept services, and what we have to offer," Hogan said.
Hogan said the city has offered to connect people with their families. It is part of the city's family reunification program. It entails connecting with their families and helping their loved one get to them. Whether those here take it is another question. The one part that is answered is that the place under I-30 has run its course.
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