CSMA planning to hire security

Merchants association would like to cut down on panhandling and vagrants along the retail side of Cedar Springs

SAFETY AND SECURITY  |  OutLines owner David Lester believes that a security guard will help make shopping on Cedar Springs a safer and more pleasant experience. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

SAFETY AND SECURITY | OutLines manager David Lester believes that a security guard will help make shopping on Cedar Springs a safer and more pleasant experience. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Cedar Springs Merchants Association decided to hire a guard to patrol the east side of Cedar Springs Road. Store owners and landlords will fund the additional security.

Caven Enterprises, owner of four bars on the west side Cedar Springs, has had guards patrol that side of the street for years.

CSMA President Scott Whittall said several incidents prompted hiring the guard.

“We deal with panhandlers and vagrants daily,” Whittall said.

A burglary at OutLines several weeks ago was among the incidents that prompted the move.

OutLines manager David Lester said, “A gentleman of dubious character was in the store.”

He said the salesman kept an eye on him. The man said he was going to purchase six pairs of jeans, selected a variety of sizes and styles and took them to the counter. The salesman followed the man to the cash register but as he walked behind the counter, the man grabbed the slacks and ran out the door.

Lester said the presence of security on the street would help.

“The security person will have a phone,” he said.

A salesman in a store could call the guard to come down to that store. Lester said it might not have prevented the theft, but the man would have been less likely to grab and run if a guard was standing outside the front door.

“The presence tends to tell people we’re watching,” he said.

He said at night during the week the parking in back can be dark and lonely. A security guard could watch people as they go to their cars.

However, the guard will not be full time. The days and hours will vary from week to week.

Lester said that it would be nice to have someone full-time but this is what they can afford. He said the fluctuating schedule would make it harder to announce which hours would be best for shoplifting. Some days the guard will patrol during the afternoon. Other days security will continue into the evening.

Caven Enterprises has employed security guards around its clubs and parking lots for years.

“We’ve had security as long as I’ve worked for this company,” said Caven president Gregg Kilhoffer, who has been with the company for 27 years.

On any one night Caven has three to seven guards — one at each club entrance, one in the parking lot, one in paid parking and one or two roaming the perimeter.

“Security is very important,” Kilhoffer said, “And I’m very proud of that.”

Kilhoffer, who is on the board of the merchant’s association, said he would like to see security during the day for the stores and restaurants.

“That would help us deal with people who harass customers,” he said.

Whittall said that CSMA is still interviewing companies to provide the protection required. He said he thought they had a deal with one company but that company wasn’t willing to patrol on a varying schedule.
“Vagrants know when security is there,” Whittall said.

Police advised the group to vary hours and days to keep panhandlers and vagrants off-guard.

Whittall said that in his eight years as a Cedar Springs merchant, he hadn’t encountered any violent crime along the street. And a security guard would not patrol the residential streets where many people park on weekends where muggings have occurred.

Lester said that unfortunately a guard wouldn’t have prevented the recent hit-and-run accidents involving pedestrians either.

But Whittall said panhandling is a major problem that merchants hoped to get under control.

“Not a day went by that I didn’t have to deal with it,” Whittall said.

Whittall sold Buli and the transfer to new owners happened last week. He said the new owners had to deal with a panhandler in the store the first hour they were running the business.

To fund the guard, CSMA planned to hold a holiday dinner and cabaret on Friday, Dec. 2 at The Rose Room. Whittall said that several other events that evening conflicted including a Human Rights Campaign holiday party. Only half the seats sold so CSMA decided to postpone it.

Whittall said the event will be moved to early spring. Singer Linda Petty who was slated to appear, told him that she would be available for the group whenever they rescheduled it. She said she’d rather sing for a full house to help them raise more money.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Losing his home — and his health

Dallas man with HIV says housing stability helped him stay healthy. But late HOPWA payments led to his eviction, and a rising viral load

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

FIGHTING FOR HEALTH AND HOUSING | Since he received notice that he was being evicted because HOPWA payments covering his rent were late, Dustin Mattlage’s CD4 count has dropped 200 points. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

“Housing stability has kept me out of the hospital,” said Dustin Mattlage, who has lived with HIV for 17 years.

But now, problems with the federal program that has helped give him stable housing is having a negative impact on his health.

In 2005, Mattlage began receiving assistance through Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS, a federal program better known as HOPWA. The program he relies on to keep a roof over his head is administered by the city, and Dallas consistently pays landlords late.

Mattlage said a recent 200-point drop in his CD4 count was caused by the stress of a current eviction demonstrates the importance of stable housing for people living with AIDS.

Don Maison, president and CEO of AIDS Services Dallas, agrees.

“I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen who have been told by their doctors they had weeks to live,” Maison said. “One guy moved into Ewing on May 1, 1996. He is thriving.”

People living with AIDS in stable housing have an 80 percent reduction in mortality, Maison said one study showed. Another study indicated the death rate is seven to nine times higher among people with AIDS who are homeless.

HOPWA supports a number of programs, including acquisition and rehabilitation of housing units, that have benefited ASD.

Other programs provide rental assistance and prevent homelessness, targeting individuals who are not in housing like ASD or Villages at Samaritan House in Fort Worth. In Dallas, the city and county run two of those programs.

The city provides temporary, emergency assistance. A person with HIV can apply for that help and Dallas will pay rent for up to five months a year. Fort Worth runs a similar program.

A county program that receives HOPWA funding provides permanent assistance.

According to a HUD study released earlier this year, renting apartments is cheaper than placing people in homeless shelters, even before the cost of extra services such as more emergency room visits is added.

Mattlage said that if he were homeless, he’d have no way to refrigerate the medication that has kept him out of Parkland.

With a stable home, Mattlage said, rather than worrying about where he was going to spend the night, he re-entered the workforce.

Before moving into the Bailiwick, an apartment complex in Oak Lawn, Mattlage made sure the complex accepted HOPWA payments without late fees. He lost a previous apartment because even though HOPWA emergency funds covered his rent when he was sick, late charges he couldn’t cover mounted to more than $1,000.

While payments from the city-managed program are reliable, they are also consistently late.

To receive payments from the city, a landlord signs up as a vendor on the City Hall website. They also sign a payment agreement and check off “Yes, I am willing to wait for payment. (By checking this box, I agree to wait 6-8 weeks for payment to be processed. I also agree that late charges will cease upon the date of this agreement).”

Earlier this year, Kevin Forhan purchased the Bailiwick.

Forhan said he could not comment for the story because of ongoing litigation with Mattlage but would talk to Dallas Voice after that pending case is resolved.

Unrelated to Mattlage, he made one comment about the program.

“I think the bureaucracy makes it difficult for a small business to deal with it,” he said.

The pending litigation he referred to began in May.

On May 19, Mattlage received a notice of rental arrears. On June 16, he was served with an eviction notice with a June 21 court date.

While presiding Justice of the Peace Luis Sepulveda sympathized with Mattlage, he found no grounds for refusing the eviction. Mattlage did receive a stay, however, by filing an immediate appeal on grounds of housing discrimination based on disability. HUD referred the complaint to the city’s Fair Housing Office.

The court date for the appeal was July 22. Although he expected to lose, that delay gave Mattlage a month, rather than five business days, to find a new place to live and move.

He is now on permanent housing assistance in the HOPWA program managed by the county. Once Mattlage found his new apartment, the county scheduled an inspection to make sure the new apartment meets certain minimum standards and safety requirements. They also checked that the apartment is the size allowed and not a larger apartment that the client could sublet to a roommate for profit.

As expected, Mattlage lost his appeal on June 22, but was given an extra week for the county to approve the new residence and move.

Mattlage said receiving HOPWA emergency assistance is easy: To get temporary help from the city, bring a rental arrears notice, a copy of the lease and a current letter of diagnosis. “They want to know you’re currently getting treatment,” he said.

Mattlage said he found a lot of AIDS-related discrimination in housing in Oak Lawn.

While calling apartment complexes, he asked if they accepted Section 8 housing vouchers, a HUD program that subsidizes shelter for low-income individuals and families.
If they said they would, he asked if they accepted HOPWA. Most of those Oak Lawn properties that took Section 8 said they would not accept HOPWA.

Mattlage praised the HOPWA programs and said the city emergency help was easy to access. Getting an appointment with the county took more persistence. But both require some legwork.

“You have to be proactive,” he said.

City officials did not return calls seeking comment.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 23, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas