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City Identifies $1 Million In Federal Funds To Help West Dallas Residents Afford New Rent

Residents facing eviction from homes in West Dallas and other rapidly gentrifying areas could receive rental assistance from the city after officials recently identified $1 million in federal funds.

The Dallas Morning News reportsthat the Dallas City Council will next week discuss a proposal to use the funds. A final vote isn’t expected until August.

After the City of Dallas strengthened its housing code in September, landlords say they’re unable to invest in repairing their older, rundown rental properties. Renters in these homes are typically paying $300 to $600 in monthly rent -- a price that’s hard to match as neighborhoods like West Dallas and southern Dallas are gentrifying and other areas of Dallas are already too expensive to relocate.

As a result, longtime renters are struggling to find affordable housing. The crisis is playing out for hundreds of West Dallas families living in rental homes owned by HMK Ltd. It’s also the subject of the KERA series, No Place To Go.

In light of the new housing code, 305 families in HMK homes were served an eviction notice last fall and given until June 3 to relocate. Last month, property owner Khraish Khraish offered to sell some of the homes to the renters.

The same day a Dallas County district judge pushed the move-out deadline to Oct. 2. However, most of the families have already moved away. And those who remain still face uncertainty.

Credit Courtney Collins / KERA News
Rosemary Guerra sits on the porch of her home in Oak Cliff. She moved from her West Dallas home in November, soon after HMK Ltd.'s initial eviction notice.

As The Dallas Morning News reports:

“The money to help tenants rent other homes would come from a program called HOME Investment Partnerships through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The initiative gives cities flexibility with federal dollars: Cities can use funds to build affordable homes, repair existing ones and help families with mortgage or rent payments.
"The federal government gave Dallas more than $4 million in HOME funds this fiscal year. But the $1 million in rental assistance the city proposes is “program income” -- money paid back to the city from loans issued through HOME, said Raquel Favela, the city’s new chief of economic development and neighborhood services.
"Under program rules, rental assistance must be channeled to families making 80 percent or less of the median income in the area where they live. Eligible families would have to pick a home within Dallas city limits and could get help for up to two years.”

West Dallas Households That Can't Afford Rent

If an occupant spends more than 30 percent of his or her income on housing, it’s considered unaffordable, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

West Dallas is made up of seven census tracts. The graphic below shows the percentage of the population in each tract that cannot afford rent based on the coalition’s definition.

Housing Affordability in West Dallas from 2010-2014
Create line charts

Learn more about gentrification and affordable housing in West Dallas, and meet the residents deciding their next move in our One Crisis Away series, No Place To Go.