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Dallas City Council Approves City's First Comprehensive Housing Policy

Photo/Allison V. Smith
Construction on The Austin at Trinity Green apartments in West Dallas in March 2017.

The Dallas City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the city's first comprehensive housing policy. It's designed to address the shortage of affordable housing and break up concentrations of poverty in the city.

Dallas officials say the city is short about 20,000 housing units. About six out of 10 residents spend more than one-third of their income on housing costs. More than half of the homes sold last year cost over $300,000.

The new housing policy uses data to identify the neighborhoods that need the city's attention and provides incentives for developers to build more affordable housing in those areas. Dallas officials refer to those areas as “reinvestment zones,” which are grouped in three categories.

  • Redevelopment Areas: areas in which an anchoring development is already planned within the next year, which could serve as a catalyst for future development. Officials have identified Midtown, the Cedars, Wynnewood, and Red Bird as redevelopment areas.
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.

  • Stabilization Areas: areas in which low-income residents are at risk of being pushed out due to gentrification. Officials deem LBJ Skillman, Vickery Meadow, Casa View, Forest Heights/Cornerstone Heights, East Downtown, The Bottom, West Dallas, and Red Bird North as stabilization areas.

  • Emerging Market Areas: regions that need significant improvement first before luring real estate developments. Southern Gateway, Pleasant Grove, and University Hills are emerging market areas.

The plan also offers property tax freezes in some low-income areas, and incentives for low-rent landlords to fix up rental properties.
The plan has its critics

Council member Kevin Felder worries the plan won't do enough to address gentrification — a problem that could intensify if more companies relocate to Dallas.

“We have to think beyond what happens at City Hall and think out into the future,” he said in the Wednesday morning meeting. “We're not doing that. Affordable housing is critical for relocation in all areas of the city.”

Other council members acknowledge the plan isn't perfect. But they say it's a good first step toward addressing rising home prices and property taxes — and concerns about income segregation.

The City Council plans to review the housing policy every 18 months to gauge its effectiveness.

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.