Sofas, mattresses, crumpled tents and the stench of urine were most of what remained of yet another homeless encampment city officials pushed to close Tuesday.
Residents of the tent city between 2nd and 3rd Avenues under Interstate 30 were told earlier this month that they had to clear out by Wednesday.
A few lingered Tuesday, packing up their belongings, but most others had already left, many moving to other grassy spots under highway overpasses.
The clearing out and cleaning up of homeless encampments has become commonplace in Dallas.
The 2nd Avenue homeless village, near the State Fair of Texas fairgrounds, was once home to about 70 people and is the fourth major encampment closed in the past year.
The trend started last May when city officials shuttered Tent City, a sprawling encampment under Interstate 45 near downtown. It had been home to 300 people, many of whom simply dragged their tents under a different overpass.
City crews regularly clean up smaller encampments scattered throughout the city, and social workers visit those living outside to encourage them to go to a shelter.
Like many of the other smaller tent cities since the Tent City, there were familiar faces at the 2nd Avenue encampment.
Social workers say those living on the streets and in encampments are often the hardest to bring inside. Many battle addictions and struggle with mental illnesses.
But more and more people from the tent cities are accepting help, said Dave Hogan, manager of the Dallas Police Department’s crisis intervention unit.
“Out of each closure, we get some people” to move inside, he said.
Smaller encampments with just a handful of residents are still peppered throughout the city. And another tent city under Interstate 45 at Harwood Avenue has steadily grown for a year. Its population appeared to swell Tuesday.
Though the problem continues, homeless services have learned how to handle tent cities and talk to people who aren’t ready to move inside, said Daniel Roby, executive director of Austin Street Center.
“Before the large tent encampment that we had last year, we didn’t know what to do,” he said. “Now we have a better idea of what to do. That doesn’t mean it will eliminate the problem, but it will help the problem.”
Though the shelter was prepared to take in people from the latest closed encampment, many declined the offer, Roby said.
Many staying in shelters have a difficult time moving out because of limited affordable housing options in Dallas.
“We don’t really have a mixed income anything in the city of Dallas,” said Mike Koprowski, executive director of Opportunity Dallas.
Koprowski said that the city needs to develop a comprehensive housing policy, which could increase affordable housing for the city’s poorest and homeless.
In the meantime, crews will patch fences at other former homeless encampments this week to ensure people don’t move back to their old homes.
“No Trespassing” signs are installed under most overpasses now. Anyone who moves in will be told to leave.
On Wednesday, hazardous materials crews will finish cleaning debris left over from the homes people built at the the 2nd Avenue encampment.