Favela

(Photo courtesy City of Dallas)

Raquel Favela, Dallas’ Chief of Economic Development and Neighborhood Services, has given City Manager T.C. Broadnax her resignation, the city announced yesterday. Her resignation is effective Sept. 3.

Under her tenure, which began April 2017, Favela oversaw the city’s first data-driven Market Value Analysis framework, which helped city leaders, residents and others better suss out the local residential real estate market. That framework would also be valuable in crafting housing program policy. (more…)

Yesterday morning, the Dallas City Council unanimously approved its first housing policy aimed at addressing affordable housing.  It took a while, but we’ve finally put on our big boy pants.  You may recall back in January the city rolled out a Market Value Analysis that measured housing across Dallas to map the varying levels of housing and costs. There wasn’t a lot of shock on the large scale of Northern Dallas being better off than Southern Dallas. But the block-by-block analysis identified specific areas where an affordable housing policy might do some good.

Armed with that information, the city held many community meetings to discuss the findings and gain input on ways to address affordability in Dallas. Nearly 39,000 people participated on those in-person and call-in meetings.

The results of these efforts identified several issues … (download full policy here)

Despite all the building of the past few years, Dallas has a 20,000 housing unit shortfall in both purchase and rental housing. It’s not hard to see why in 2017 the median home price swelled by 9.1 percent, in part because available housing only grew 3.6 percent. Scarcity increases price.

Meanwhile, 60 percent of Dallas families, regardless of income, are cost burdened by their housing costs. This means they spend more than 30 percent of their net income on housing costs. This forces people to leave Dallas for cheaper suburbs that increase commute times and transportation costs, in effect burdening them in another way.

Adding to unaffordability are developers snatching any postage stamp of land in hot neighborhoods at exorbitant prices while leaving poorer neighborhoods begging for more housing. Cheap land and high building costs in areas with less economic power aren’t as profitable as projects in wealthy neighborhoods that generate top dollar. And so far, the glut of luxury apartment building shows little sign of abatement.

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Pennsylvania details just how expensive being homeless is for taxpayers

As part of a discussion about affordable housing, I wrote that poverty wasn’t aspirational. Like most things in life there are both simple and complex explanations.  In the US, a lot of poverty is explained by a systemic game of three-card Monty whereby minorities are kept at arm’s length from money through education and opportunity inequality.  Of course minorities are not alone in poverty, but they are disproportionately represented. But there are untold other reasons for poverty from the top-of-mind mental illness and substance abuse to more nuanced problems of isolation and hopelessness.

Just as poverty isn’t aspirational, poverty isn’t one thing.  Like most things in this world, poverty is a continuum ranging from homeless destitution to working 80-hour weeks and still living unsafe and hungry.

Why should a real estate blog care about affordable housing and poverty? Because poverty is the scourge of neighborhoods, not poor people.  Because I wrote about some areas in southern Dallas that contain wonderful housing stock and increasingly vibrant neighborhoods that many won’t consider.  Because Dallas was just presented with a Market Value Analysis to help them identify and spend appropriately on affordable housing.

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