HH Aerial Preston Center

I read Candy’s post on low income housing…and I penned the following note.  In her openness to explore differing opinions, Candy suggested it would make a good counter-balance post. And she reminded me that the Dallas Morning News had an editorial Sunday about how southern Dallas housing is booming–

Two of the city’s three hottest residential real estate markets are south of the Trinity River, a trend that real estate experts say bodes well for efforts to stabilize and revitalize southern Dallas neighborhoods. In the first six months of this year, home prices in the Oak Cliff sector soared 30 percent from 2014 levels. Prices in the southern Dallas sector — roughly between Loop 12 and Interstate 20 — increased a hefty 21 percent.

Only one sector north of the Trinity saw similar increases: North Dallas climbed 22 percent.

The southern sector, of course, is where more affordable Dallas housing has been located. But yeah — 

As values increase, “there is an incentive to own property,” says Ted Wilson, principal at Dallas-based Residential Strategies, a real estate research and consulting firm. “To see values go up, there is good for the city and those communities.”

But not so good for poor people.


Liberal that I am, I have to say Schutze, reading through his smart-assery, is correct.

Busing poor kids into wealthier areas doesn’t have the impact of changing a child’s ultimate trajectory because the remaining 16-hours of their day are spent in less-than-ideal and potentially unsafe conditions.  There are numerous studies that show that placing entire families in modestly wealthier areas pays off.  It’s most critical for the youngest children because the same studies show that while a change at any age helps, the effect is diminished as children age. This isn’t surprising as very young children learn a variety of things, both positive and negative, that they carry for the rest of their lives. (more…)

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 MapThere used to be a time when I decried “NIMBYism.” It seemed shallow for some people to object to city developments that would be good for several people just because it would impact a nearby homeowner.

That was before I bought my first home. Now, I’ll admit to having a few NIMBY moments of my own. Why? Because I bought a house, signed a mortgage, and even though I’m not trying to flip it or make money off of it, it’s still an investment I want to keep healthy. That means looking out for my home and my neighborhood.

I no longer see NIMBY as a pejorative. Instead, I see objecting as an step toward compromise and education, and I think that’s what the folks objecting to the expanded Dallas Housing Authority development in Oak Lawn are doing. They’re voicing opposition, and thereby taking a step toward compromise and education.

That’s the vibe I get from Alan Shaffer, a Clay Stapp & Co. agent who specializes in the area. In fact, Shaffer used to live directly across the street from the former DHA development that was razed to make room for the new one.

“I used to live directly across from this project years ago at Kings Quarters and saw first hand how run down the community was, the level of crime in the area (including a number of break ins at our gated community), drug busts nearby and even drug dealers living in our community,” Shaffer said in a letter to the zoning board. “I think enlarging this community and making it even more dense would be detrimental to the surrounding neighborhoods.”

I asked Shaffer what he thought of a smaller development in the area, one that better fit the scale of the site and neighborhood. Specifically, what kind of development would Shaffer welcome on the site? I was surprised by his response.

“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,” Shaffer said. “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.”

It’s a sensitive subject, one that has commenters on blogs lobbing accusations of racism and classism at one another, but Shaffer poses a nuanced solution that DHA should try to adopt — a more integrated model that puts market-rate apartments next to subsidized housing.

Another issue is maintenance and upkeep, which nearby residents have brought up again and again as not just lax, but negligent. If the city wants to build a housing development that will become a part of the neighborhood, than it needs to adhere to the standards of the neighborhood, says Mike Harper, who, along with many other concerned neighbors, has launched a website.

“When I spoke to the management on the property about my concerns, there was little to no assurance of anything being done as she went on about how she had bigger issues to deal with,” Harper said in an email. “So I personally think that DHA needs to prove themselves to the community with their existing property before they add over 400 more units across the street.”

That doesn’t sound terribly unreasonable, to me. In fact, I think a “good neighbor” agreement, as the Rezoning DHA website puts it, is a great social contract between the new development and surrounding community.

On the flipside (and there is always a flipside), everyone needs to realize that while the 410 proposed units for the site would make this project the most dense public housing development in Dallas, it still doesn’t even come close to evening out the disparity of public housing developments in northern Dallas versus those located in the southern sector.

In the Uptown area, this one project is only one of two DHA projects in one of the most dense areas of the city, with the glut falling to East Dallas, West Dallas, South Dallas, Oak Cliff, and Southeast Dallas. So while it would stand to reason to add more low-income housing to the Uptown/Oak Lawn/Cedar Springs area, they shouldn’t all be in one place, and they shouldn’t eschew the parking and maintenance standards the rest of the area holds.

Attempts to contact Dallas Housing Authority director Mary Ann Russ for this story were not returned.