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Lindsay Diaz and her son stand in what's left of their home after tornadoes tore through North Texas on Dec. 26, 2015.KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.The problem's known as asset poverty, and it doesn’t discriminate. A job loss, health emergency, even legal trouble can be enough to plunge a third of our friends and neighbors into financial distress. One Crisis Away puts a human face on asset poverty and the financial struggles of people in North TexasExplore the series so far and join the KERA News team as they add new chapters to One Crisis Away in the months to come.One Crisis Away is funded in part by the Communities Foundation of Texas, Allstate Foundation, the Texas Women's Foundation, The Fort Worth Foundation, The Thomson Family Foundation, and the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.

Dallas Mayor And Landlord Have Different Visions For Helping Tenants

There was some movement Monday in the case of 300 families slated to lose their rental homes in West Dallas. At a City Hall news conference, Mayor Mike Rawlings announced that Catholic Charities Dallas will start canvassing the neighborhood.

Many of the residents are used to paying as little as a few hundred dollars a month in rent, and don’t have a plan for what’s next.

Learning More 

Canvassers will start meeting with West Dallas residents as early as this weekend. Mayor Mike Rawlings says the city needs to learn more about their financial and family situation, as well as housing aspirations.

“We as a city have an obligation to make sure those folks have good housing," he says. "We want them to make sure that they’ve got a place that they can raise their families, or grow old. The problem is that we don’t know where all those people are and what their needs are.”

The 300 homes are owned by HMK Ltd. They were built in the 1940s and the owner says they can’t be brought up to newly strengthened city standards.

Many of the renters pay only $300 or $400 a month to live there—and don’t know where they’ll move in June—the deadline to vacate. That’s an extension of an earlier deadline, to let families finish out the school year.

“Look, time’s a wasting though. The school year’s going to be done here in just a few months," says Rawlings. "I care about these families, first and foremost that’s every one of our jobs is to make sure each of these families are taken care of."

When a reporter asked whether the city planned to give families money to relocate, Rawlings said: “Look, there is a lot of money available in this city. Not necessarily at City Hall, but in this city.”

A Different Plan

Co-owner of HMK limited Khraish Khraish was at the news conference. He chose to stand, not sit, for the entirety of the mayor’s announcement.

He says canvassing the neighborhood doesn’t help anyone.

“The only plan that they have is to go to my tenants and to figure out what they need. It’s obvious what they need. We all know what they need," Khraish says. "They need affordable housing solutions. And that’s the one thing the mayor is not offering.”

That’s what Khraish wants to offer. He says he has the land and money to build a senior living center and multifamily dwellings in West Dallas. He has a few dozen homes for sale in Oak Cliff, and he wants to sell about half of the West Dallas homes slated for closure to Habitat for Humanity.

“Contract is in title for 130 lots for them to immediately start building," he says. "We’re going to make 130 low-income, moderate-income families homeowners in West Dallas with brand new housing stock.”

Even if the homes are demolished and rebuilt by Habitat, residents will still have to move out temporarily come June 3. Canvassers in West Dallas won’t wrap up until March 1.