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Dallas City Council moves forward on low-income housing and reducing homelessness

Two tents at a homeless encampment in Dallas.
Keren Carrión
City officials hope to reduce homelessness in Dallas and have purchased properties that will be used to provide housing and services.

Housing was big on the minds of Dallas council members on Wednesday. The city council voiced its support for five new affordable housing complexes.

Council Member Chad West said they will provide more housing for the city's workforce.

“We're pushing people to the suburbs. We need affordable housing. This is for our workforce. And these aren't people who are who are, delivering our mail, teaching our kids…” West said.

West said it is a negative misconception to think of low-income housing as “welfare housing.”

Council Member Omar Narvaez agreed with West’s statement and said residents should not be “fearful” of these projects.

“Folks seem to think that poor people or lower income folks are scary, evil, mean, bad people. And that's not the case,” he said.

The city hopes to begin talks with potential developers for the affordable housing complexes.

Council Member Adam McGough complained about a proposed 168-unit housing project in his northern Dallas district. He said his constituents feel like they've been left out of the loop.

“This community has been asking for a very long time for an area plan just to understand what it is, and be engaged, involved in, what we're bringing into this neighborhood,” McGough said.

He said residents asked for economic development growth like restaurants, retail shops and grocery stores. Now, they worry that an affordable housing project will lead to more crime in the area.

Other council members said northern Dallas needs more low-income housing options.

City leaders said the location for the proposed project in McGough’s district is near a grocery store, libraries and public transportation. The project residents will include city workers, veterans and domestic abuse survivors.

The council also authorized $5 million to acquire a property in southern Dallas. The city hopes to build housing there for people experiencing homelessness. This is part of a major regional effort to house more than 2,700 people experiencing homelessness by 2023.

Alejandra Martinez is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). She's covering the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities and the city of Dallas.