Jim Schutze of the Dallas Observer Wants Low Income Housing in Preston Center?

HH Aerial Preston Center

Low income housing: it’s a real problem. How do you find affordable housing for people who earn little or no income in a period of real estate value growth?  We love gentrification because it leads to higher home values and make us richer — homeowners, investors. As our property values go up, the city collects more from us in property taxes. And we spend more, feel more confident. We sit and fan ourselves cool on our back porches, sipping margaritas, feeling pretty secure knowing our house values are not just secure but rising. It’s a good feeling, like knowing you’ve got a couple thousand in the bank. Studies show that consumers spend more when they know the values of their real estate are tilting upwards — they spend less and feel poor when values plummet.

All good for the $67,000 a year plus owner, but where do we build homes for poor people earning less than that once they are shushed out? Some liberals tend to think it’s great to mix up the pot, like school busing. Last week Schutze, who I usually like because he has a great BS detector when it comes to Dallas City politics, rattled off a crazy column about fair housing rules the Obama administration announced mid-week to repair the 1968 Fair Housing Law’s “unfulfilled promise and promote the kind of racially integrated neighborhoods that have long eluded deeply segregated cities.”

Schutze took aim at The Park Cities to blonde-bash (I pay good money for my blonde, thank you) and scream about the need to get more poor children into “areas of opportunity”:

The purpose of fair housing law is not just to piss off rich white people but to put poor people, especially poor children, in “areas of opportunity” where they will be exposed to values and educational opportunities that were not available in their hemisphere of origin. More than anything, it’s about getting poor kids into good schools.

Wait a minute, I thought this was what BUSING was supposed to accomplish! Now instead of  busing the kiddos to those schools in “areas of opportunity”, you want to GIVE them the homes next door? Busing sure worked for the Dallas Public Schools!

(Julian) Castro and President Obama have unveiled a brand-new, get-tough, no-more-schmoozing, no more Mr. Nice Guy policy on fair housing. They say they will use super sophisticated new high-tech techniques to sleuth out racially segregated communities and then marshal various federal resources to work to overcome those patterns.

Schutze said he didn’t think he could squeeze any low income housing into the Park Cities because they are likely not taking any federal monies, so no strings attached. BUT! He did find a corner of HPISD in Dallas where we could have public-assisted housing:

Sticking out beyond the northwest corner of University Park like a Dumbo ear, in fact, is an area of 20 city blocks — some of them big city blocks — entirely within the municipal boundaries of the City of Dallas. Spanning south from the corner of Northwest Highway and the Dallas North Tollway, this area offers rich and ample opportunities for the development of federally supported housing.

Preston center skybridge

He’s talking about the corner of Northwest Highway and Preston, which we have talked about on this blog forever! That’s the area with the parking garage where Crow Companies wants to build a skybridge because they have (maybe) signed a lease with a major grocery market.

Highland House

That’s where Luke Crosland wanted to build a money-making luxury apartment complex for baby boomers to retire into and still be super active.

And that’s where Methodist Family Health Center just opened a new office, spending (I’m told) almost $500 per square foot on finish out.

There are lots of restaurants in the area and a few shops, also beauty salons and jewelry stores. Yup, it would be a great place for low income housing:

Sticking out beyond the northwest corner of University Park like a Dumbo ear, in fact, is an area of 20 city blocks — some of them big city blocks — entirely within the municipal boundaries of the City of Dallas. Spanning south from the corner of Northwest Highway and the Dallas North Tollway, this area offers rich and ample opportunities for the development of federally supported housing.

That ought to be enough to get Laura Miller’s reaction. No luxury apartment complex, no skybridge, no grocery store.

But hey, how about Section 8 Housing at Preston Center?

7 Comment

  • “All good for the $67,000 a year plus owner, but where do we build homes for poor people earning less than that once they are shushed out? Some liberals tend to think it’s great to mix up the pot, like school busing.”

    I have been a DISD teacher for nearly ten years and I make roughly $51,000 a year. I am a single professional with two college degrees. How dare I want to be able to afford to live in a nice neighborhood?! Although, perhaps I’d rather live in a neighborhood filled with nice poor people who say hello out on the streets than condescending wealthy ones who hide in their backyards drinking margaritas. How liberal of me!

    • mm

      Thanks for the comment. Somehow teachers are the last people I think of when it comes to Section 8 Housing. And my reference to $67,000 came from Texas A&M’s housing affordability index. $51,000 a year would also include many journalists and soon physicians! I cringe whenever I read what DISD administrators earn — triple figures — while teachers, who are on the front line, who have expensive educations, make less than a quarter of that!

      But the problem here is housing. As it becomes more expensive to live in Dallas and within the Loop, where will people like teachers and journalists live? Shall they rent forever? We really work hard to find our Tuesday $200’s as homes priced below $300K in the Loop are becoming more rare in Dallas.

      PSW Homes is doing a nice job building affordable homes in parts of this City, but because of land costs and margins etc. you really cannot build a home that’s much less than $350K.

      We need some creative programs. And we need to look in other areas. My point is that I am weary of “legislating equality” as we tried with busing and it seems that is all Washington wants to do. Create more rules and hurdles, which always end up costing the middle class or small employer more money and trouble and putting them out to pasture. Besides, you’ve go so much NIMBYism going on around Preston Center, and really everywhere in Dallas developers tell me they’d rather go north and build. And they are. But then you have to drive. And it’s a damn Catch 22. If you have any ideas at all, we’d love to hear them. I’m sure Jon has some thoughts…

      • Candy, I know you’re not a fan of government regulation, but historically “corporate morality” is an oxymoron that grows more true by the day. Left unregulated, air and water are dirtier, land is more polluted, people will segregate and banks will do anything to anyone to turn a buck. Molly Ivins said government is a tool just like a hammer. It could be used to build or destroy. Regulations are put in place to force the unethical and immoral corporate “people” to do what’s right someone besides shareholders. Do they get it right all the time? No. But that doesn’t mean they should give up because the alternative is worse — we’d still have legalized red-lining for a start. Oh, and the town I grew up in had good housing for teachers and millionaires.

  • mm

    Under the old formulas you could afford a home that was 4 times the cost of your annual income, so $51,000 times 4 would be a $204,000 home. Now it’s 3 times or even less thanks to taxes, insurance, etc. etc. So you can afford a $153,000 house. That’s not counting down payments. I was interviewed by Texas Monthly last week for their real estate editorial, and I told the writer this is what keeps me up at night — the diminishing ability of young people to buy homes.

  • NO. I totally agree with you Candy, 100%, please no Section 8 in Preston Center.

    *sips margarita on cool back porch*

  • What a great ideas!! I would LOVE to see snobby people of North Dallas experience some diversity. It is a bubble now for those who make over 6 figures. How are we as a people ever going to understand empathy, love and grace, by denying affordable housing to those in need?

    Not everyone in Dallas has the ability to shop at Norstroms, Neiman Marup, or Whole Paycheck.

    Wake up snobs.

  • It won’t be Preston Center where the section 8 housing is built. It will be North Park Gardens condominiums (the stretch of land on Northwest Highway between Boedeker and Durham). The City of Dallas will take that land by eminent domain, paid for by HUD money from Washington, DC. Then the City of Dallas will re-zone that land — since it’s within the City of Dallas but also in the HPISD boundaries — as multi-family section 8 housing. The 7500 block will provide room for parking and amenities for the section 8 complex; and the more western blocks that are within the HPISD district boundaries will be where the section 8 high-rise towers are built.

    Of course, without nearby schools for these children to attend, with the capacity to take them, this section 8 plan would never happen because it would never work. But HPISD is making all of this possible by building a 5th elementary school right next door, and expanding its other elementary schools, the middle school, and the high school, to accommodate these new students. The younger children will only need to cross Durham; their elementary school will be steps away.

    It matters not one bit that HPISD doesn’t take HUD money. The City of Dallas takes HUD $$ and it is legally obligated under the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulations to desegregate schools and place children in poverty into high quality schools in “high opportunity” neighborhoods. If the City of Dallas fails to satisfy HUD that it is doing just that, HUD can and will withhold additional federal money for the City of Dallas. Since part of the City of Dallas is within the HPISD boundaries, Dallas can and will do with that land what it likes, including MF zoning and section 8 housing; the Park Cities simply have no say in the matter.

    So anyone who says HPISD doesn’t want integrated schools and integrated housing nearby ought to think again. There are many, many Park Cities parents who want section 8 students attending Park Cities schools with their own children; and they are the ones planning to vote YES on the $350+M bond issue.

    Yes, property values will go down quite a bit, so until property taxes are raised, Parkland’s budget will take quite a hit. Yes, HPISD school rankings will go down, making it more difficult for its students to gain admission into highly competitive colleges. Yes, the economic disparities between the section 8 and Park Cities students will be stark and may cause social strife. And yes, based on prior section 8 experiments, crime will substantially increase; the neighborhood won’t be as safe.

    But the value of diversity is priceless, is it not?