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

Breaking Down Dallas' First Comprehensive Housing Policy

Allison V. Smith
KERA news special contributor
West Dallas is classified as a "Stabilization Area" in Dallas' first comprehensive housing policy.

Dallas’ first comprehensive housing policy, approved last week, is designed to encourage more affordable housing and disrupt patterns of segregation and gentrification. However, the policy has its critics.

Here's an explainer on the current housing issues in Dallas and how the plan aims to address them.

Housing realities in Dallas

  • Per the report, the city is short about 20,000 affordable units.
  • Six out of 10 people are rent burdened, which means they’re spending more than a third of their income on rent.
  • In 2017, nearly 58 percent of home sales were priced between $300,000 and $1 million.
Credit City of Dallas
The A through I letters in the Market Value Analysis key refer to housing values, with A being the most expensive. Most of the lower-income housing is concentrated south of Interstate 30.

Reinvestment Zones

This is what the city classifies as the neighborhoods in need of attention.

Redevelopment Areas: Areas where there’s a project either in progress or set to begin within a year that could spur future development. (Example neighborhood: Red Bird Mall area)

Stabilization Areas: Areas where redevelopment threatens to displace low-income residents already there. The housing policy wants mixed-income development in these neighborhoods and things like accessory dwellings, like garage apartments. (Example neighborhoods: West Dallas and Vickery Meadow)

Emerging Market Areas: Neighborhoods that need a lot of work, things like infrastructure, code enforcement, nuisance abatement, and crime deterrents. These things need to be in place before development can flourish. (Example neighborhoods: UNT Dallas area and  the Southern Gateway)

What’s happening in ‘Stabilization Areas’

Vickery Meadow: This neighborhood includes a lot of new immigrants, undocumented immigrants, refugee families and low-income people, and is often characterized as “second chance.” New development plans have driven up rents in the area and landlords are evicting tenants. This spring an apartment complex was bought up by the Dallas Independent School District, turning out residents without many options inside or outside the neighborhood.

West Dallas: After more than 300 low-cost rental homes owned by HMK Ltd. near the base of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge were found no longer up to city code, the landlord planned to shutter his rental business. After a lot of back and forth with the city and judges, tenants were given several months to relocate. Many were paying between $300 and $500 a month and couldn’t find anything comparable nearby. When the final deadline arrived, more than half the tenants had moved and many decided to purchase their homes from HMK Ltd. and assume responsibility for the code violations.

What the critics are saying

  • Large swaths of the city aren’t being targeted as reinvestment zones, including parts of South Dallas near Fair Park.
  • There’s not enough in this plan to address gentrification.
  • This plan doesn’t provide enough affordable housing to the lowest income people.
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.
Former KERA staffer Stephanie Kuo is an award-winning radio journalist who worked as a reporter and administrative producer at KERA, overseeing and coordinating editorial content reports and logistics for the Texas Station Collaborative – a statewide news consortium including KERA, KUT in Austin, Houston Public Media and Texas Public Radio in San Antonio.