DALLAS - Just 24 hours after 'No Trespassing' signs went up in Tent City, the Dallas LIFE Shelter went tent-to-tent, encouraging residents to move into a shelter.
Right now, it's a choice. But soon, residents will be compelled to leave the area under the I-45 overpass leading into Dallas. The city said it plans to clear the area by May 4, leaving just 20 days to try to move about 200 people who still remain.
"As we get closer to May 4, it's critical that you have agencies down here moving people into housing. If they're ready to go today, you need to move them today," said Zach Thompson, the director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, who was at Tent City Thursday.
Dallas LIFE, a homeless recovery program, had some success Thursday, convincing about a dozen people to pack up and leave. Among them were Brad and Amy Anderson, a married couple that has lived in Tent City for about a year.
Just yesterday, they teared up when asked where they planned to go once Tent City closed.
"I don't know, I really don't," said Amy Anderson.
Now at the shelter, they'll have access to a private family room, where they can store their things, get meals, and take steps to get their lives back together again.
But many in Tent City won't be so easily convinced. Many residents have also formed tight friendships with neighbors in their camp. They don't want to move into shelters, either because of bad past experiences or because they prefer the freedom of a tent.
"The sounds, the smells, you're around different people," said Andre Collins, a Tent City resident. "It's just more problems than it was benefits for me."
Already, many homeless people have begun leaving Tent City to pitch their tents in other parts of Dallas.