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KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

In West Dallas, 135 HMK Renters Become Homeowners; Six Tenants Evicted By Deadline

Courtney Collins
KERA news
The HMK Ltd office in West Dallas is decorated with signs celebrating the sale of low cost rental homes to the tenants who had been renting them.

Monday was the deadline for families living in homes owned by HMK Ltd. to move out or face eviction. The 305 low-cost rentals, mostly in rapidly gentrifying West Dallas, have been at the center of a conflict between the landlord and the city.

After Dallas strengthened its housing standards in 2016, the homes were no longer up to code.

HMK decided to shutter its rental business instead of upgrading the decades-old houses. Tenants were supposed to vacate in June, but a judge pushed back the deadline when co-owner Khraish Khraish announced he would make many of his renters, homeowners.

"I think it turned out as best as it could, for everybody," he says. "My community and myself, the city of Dallas. I think we made as much lemonade from this great pile of lemons as we could."

Khraish says only half a dozen tenants will be evicted, all of them thousands of dollars behind in rent. About 160 renters moved out, and 135 have signed contracts to buy their homes with mortgages at $570 a month, including property taxes. Khraish hopes that will help preserve the spirit and affordability of West Dallas.

"Change is coming and that's just a fact, and we can't stop it completely," he says. "But I think what we've done is help the community become beneficiaries of this gentrification rather than just victims of it."

Khraish also offered "life estates" to seven tenants who are in their eighties. They'll pay just over $300 a month for as long as they live, then the properties will return to HMK.

KERA followed this issue for months in the series One Crisis Away: No Place To Go

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.