Dallas Housing Authority CEO MaryAnn Russ Says Site Can't Be Used for Market Rate Housing, Pushes Forward With Doubling Project's Size

Kings Road Demolition(Photo: Dallas Morning News)

We published an unedited statement from Dallas Housing Authority President and CEO MaryAnn Russ on Friday, in which she said that DHA clients have just as much right as nearby residents to live in an upscale neighborhood, and that the property on Kings Road must be affordable housing because of federal laws.

OK, that makes sense, but the main gripe of community advocates isn’t having low-income housing, it’s how much of it is planned for the site. Before it was demolished last year, many nearby residents said that the Kings Quarters development, a 70-year-old 200-unit public housing project, was rife with drugs and crime. DHA plans include more than doubling the number of units and decreasing parking. It’s a recipe for disaster, says a former neighbor to the DHA development that was razed.

I think that this would seriously impact the surrounding projects.  Having lived there I know first-hand what this can do to a community and unfortunately the bad element that can come along with this.  I think making it more dense will hurt resales nearby and increase crime.  I have watched SWAT teams bust down doors on busts at apartments across the street from these homes, and even personally wound up on an episode of a crime show that profiled our landlady, who carried a shotgun with her when she walked the property and stopped a break in one night.  It was a rough area and I for one don’t miss it.

But Russ says in her letter that DHA has owned the property longer than anyone aggrieved by the new development, and that improvements to the area started long before Kings Quarters was vacated and demolished. “We believe that by very careful screening of applicants and strict property management, we can retain the positive aspects of this fine area,” Russ added.

But that’s the rub for folks who saw how Kings Quarters descended into squalor due to lack of maintenance and upkeep. Advocates say DHA wouldn’t allow them to help tidy the property by planting flowers or helping with peeling paint.

“I hope when it is rebuilt that they will take better care of it because they sure didn’t the last time,” said a neighbor who wished to remain anonymous. “I would like to see it more mixed with some units at market rates and some subsidized. I think then the community would have a better chance of being a good neighbor and would help keep out some of the bad element that can come with these projects. It’s been public housing for years and I know we need it but I’d hate to see them make it so dense and reduce the parking. I don’t think that’s the right recipe for a good neighbor.”

I have a hard time disagreeing with that perspective. What about you?