Workers demolish derelict apartments on Kings Road to make room for a new high-density Dallas Housing Authority development.

Workers demolish derelict apartments on Kings Road to make room for a new high-density Dallas Housing Authority development.

Mike Harper and his fellow Oak Lawn neighbors, the voices behind the RezoningDHA website, worked hard to raise awareness among homeowners when the Dallas Housing Authority submitted a rezoning request for its Kings Road project. And thanks to their persistence and the hard work and consensus building of Dallas City Councilman Adam Medrano, DHA officials were able to work with neighbors to reduce the size of the development and decrease the impact of the public housing project on nearby properties.

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MaryAnn Russ MDHAMaryAnn Russ, President and CEO of the Dallas Housing Authority, responded today for our request for comment regarding a meeting between the DHA and community advocates on Tuesday. We published a story Thursday about the public outcry over the Oak Lawn DHA project set for Kings Road, citing a letter sent from advocates running the Rezoning DHA website.

Jump for the letter in its entirety.

We understand that many neighbors have concerns about DHA’s development of the site we own between Kings, Hawthorne, Hartford and Fairmont, but we believe that our customers and clients – low income families, seniors and individuals with disabilities – need and deserve to live in good neighborhoods just as higher income people do.

We have owned this site longer than anyone who is distressed by our proposed development has been in the neighborhood.  The improvements in the area began while the site was still fully occupied.  We believe that by very careful screening of applicants and strict property management, we can retain the positive aspects of this fine area.

The site cannot be used for anything except affordable housing under the terms of current Federal laws and regulations and the need for additional housing for our client base is very great.

I am sorry we cannot give you news you would like better.

MaryAnn Russ

DHA Property Map
We covered this project not too long ago. It’s a sticky situation wherein the Dallas Housing Authority made plans to construct more than 400 low-income housing units in Oak Lawn without any kind of community dialogue. The units are to be built on the site of a razed former DHA development that was riddled with crime and drugs, and dragged down surrounding property values.

DHA finally met with community advocates on Tuesday, but according to this report from nearby residents who maintain the RezoningDHA.com website, the Dallas Housing Authority is unwilling to consider a smaller, mixed income development. Read the entire letter below:

A small group of community representatives met with the Dallas Housing Authority (DHA) on Tuesday of this week. During the meeting, DHA stated that they are not willing to work with the community in regards to the number of units they plan to build on the proposed property on Kings Road, nor are they willing to adjust the income mix of the property. DHA has made it clear their mission is to build as much low & very low income housing as possible. This is despite the concerns of the community and that they previously told homeowners, buyers and developers that the property would be mixed income.

Community members voiced concerns in the meeting about the potential for increased crime if they double the number of units on the property, potential for overflow parking into the area streets, having all low & very low income units on the property, and many other issues. During the meeting, DHA provided details that the proposed zoning changes would allow up to 65’ tall buildings compared to the current restriction of only 36’ and only 410 required parking spaces compared to the 820 that would currently be required.

Based on feedback from the group, DHA agreed to look into the possibility of flipping the site plan so that the main entrance would be on Hawthorne versus Kings Road and possibly making the back gate on Kings only a fire access gate. They also agreed to investigate adding a gated entrance, perhaps providing space for a Dallas Police Department substation on the property, and possibly reserving 15-19% of the property for seniors or disabled individuals. Their current plan does provide some security features as the building acts as a barrier to limit access to only the front or back entrances as well as cameras on the property, but these do not provide assurances for other non-DHA properties in the community.

None of these items are guaranteed as DHA has only agreed to further investigate these items, so your help is needed in sharing your thoughts with DHA as well as your concerns with the zoning & planning commission.

Attempts to contact DHA president MaryAnn Russ and VP of Development Tim Lott for comment haven’t been returned.