How the City of Fort Worth protected the most vulnerable
Published on February 19, 2021
Fire Lt. James Greif, Police Sgt. Alisha Dunkin and other officers on the Fort Worth Hope Team spent the last week visiting homeless camps to check on the safety and welfare of unsheltered folks. And while they were there, they dropped off firewood and handwarmers to help the camps’ inhabitants withstand the bitter cold.
“We were at work all week doing tent checks, camper checks, sidewalk checks and getting anyone willing to go into a shelter into the shelter,” Greif said. “We have also sent multiple people to the hospital to have hypothermia-related injuries checked.”
Transportation was provided to anyone willing to stay in a shelter.
The Hope Team is a partnership involving the Fort Worth Police Department, Fort Worth Fire Department, MHMR and DRC Solutions, all collaborating to connect people to services and housing. The team can also treat the medical needs of unsheltered people.
“We were able to get six 55-gallon barrels and wood we would normally use for live fire training brought down to the large encampments,” Greif said. “These burn barrels have been a great source of heat to the homeless.”
The Hope team worked with the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition to secure donations, then distributed blankets, socks and gloves to those who preferred not to stay at a shelter.
Multiple city departments step up to help
The Hope team is just part of the homeless outreach that was conducted by the City of Fort Worth over the last week.
Early in the week, part of the Fort Worth Convention Center was transformed into a day warming center and an overnight shelter to house anyone who needed a warm place to spend the night. The Code Compliance, Neighborhood Services and Park & Recreation departments provided shelter management services, while the Public Events Department provided facility support services and the Police Department and MedStar Mobile Health provided onsite security and medical services.
There were 168 guests staying overnight on Tuesday, 178 on Wednesday and 146 on Thursday.
Most of the people who stayed at the convention center were homeless. They were provided a warm place to sleep along with evening and morning meals. The city also opened six community centers as daytime warming stations for anyone who lacked power.
Two volunteer nurses – one from Cook Children’s and one from Texas Health Resources – provided over 15 hours of volunteer medical services at the convention center shelter.
Trinity Metro provided bus service to transport people between the homeless corridor on East Lancaster Avenue and the convention center.
The City of Fort Worth funds and supports cold weather overflow emergency shelters operated by DRC Solutions to provide extra beds for anyone seeking shelter.
The city’s Directions Home unit closely coordinated with emergency shelters to return people to a warm environment at True Worth Place day shelter and the Salvation Army and informed people about available beds. The regular emergency shelters – Presbyterian Night Shelter, Salvation Army, Union Gospel Mission and the Center for Transforming Lives – offer meals, showers and case management.
The Police Department’s crisis intervention officers checked on people citywide.