candidates

Photo courtesy the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Nobody (at least, media-wise) is asking, but we did. And from the candidates who responded to our questionnaires we sent out a few months ago, we know where many of them stand on an ordinance that is allowing the slow death-by-demolition of one of the country’s few remaining intact Freedman’s towns — the Tenth Street Historic District.

Yes, I said country. It’s also one of the city’s few remaining intact Freedman’s towns, but it cannot be stressed enough — the death of Tenth Street would also be a blow to the preservation, history, and story-keeping of our country, too.

Periodically, I drive through to see the homes that are slated for demolition, knowing that at any one of my drives, I could be looking at an empty lot where there was once a home where a family lived, overcame, thrived, and loved.

There are stories in this neighborhood, and most (if not all) of them happened within the walls of the homes the city of Dallas is capriciously stripping from the community, lot by lot by lot. They’re the stories of a community that has survived in spite of what the city has done to it, not because of what it did for it. (more…)

Tenth Street

Demetria McCain, president Inclusive Communities Project, speaks to the crowd gathered at the Tenth Street Historic District Thursday (Photos courtesy John R. Erickson).

Although the demolitions continue unabated in the centuries-old Freedmen’s town, residents in the Tenth Street Historic District got at least a little bit of good news Thursday morning as they gathered in one of the many vacant — yet freshly mowed — lots for an announcement.

It’s an area that hasn’t seen a lot of great news — since it was given its landmark designation by the city in 1993, 72 homes of 260 in the historic neighborhood have been torn down. The community formed the Tenth Street Residential Association to take on the city, and has filed suit to stop the demolitions and to shore up the historic protections it is supposed to have.

But Thursday, the neighborhood got a bit of a boost in its quest to improve its lot, as the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced that it had named the district to its 32nd annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. (more…)

Tenth Street

In 2013, the nonprofit bcWORKSHOP hosted Neighborhood Stories events, including one in the Tenth Street community, where people wrote their hopes for and memories of their neighborhood (photo courtesy bcWORKSHOP)

Editor’s Note: Preserving the historic neighborhoods that have shaped Dallas should be a priority. But despite historic district designations, Black neighborhoods that were home to Dallasites before, during, and after redlining are seeing a troubling amount of demolitions of homes that, residents insist, would be saved if in other historic districts — predominately white historic districts — in the city.

Over the next weeks and months, we will be taking a look at two of those neighborhoods — Tenth Street, and Wheatley Place. Last week, we looked at three homes in immediate danger of demolition. This week, we look at one way the neighborhood is fighting back.

The lawsuit Tenth Street residents have filed against the City of Dallas does not mince words, nor does it pull punches.

“Tenth Street has historically been subject to de jure racial segregation by the City of Dallas,” it reads. “The City has a history of enforcing racial segregation in some neighborhoods by ordinance through direct decisions of its City Council.”

Much of this history is well-documented and comes courtesy of the government’s own record keeping. Redlining consigned Black families to specific sections of town, where the amenities and even necessities were not as robust as in white-only neighborhoods, if they existed at all.

1930-circa area description of Tenth Street by the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (click to enlarge)

That history is something Jorge Jasso, a staff attorney with Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, can prove easily. Jasso and other attorneys at Legal Aid are representing the Tenth Street Residential Association in their suit against the city.

Jasso points to a 1930s Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (or HOLC) map that has been digitized by the Kirwan Institute at Ohio State University that demonstrates the redlining that happened in Dallas.

To be clear, Tenth Street has been home to Black Dallasites for more than a century, and is one of the few remaining intact Freedmen’s towns in the nation. Settled by freed slaves after the Civil War, many of those families continue to hold on to the homes and land their newly-freed ancestors were undoubtedly proud to own.

The neighborhood’s genesis was in the 1880s, as it took shape south of the Trinity River in one of the few spots the Black community could own land. By now, the neighborhood would be considered the northeastern edge of Oak Cliff, bounded by Interstate 35, East Eighth Street, and Clarendon Drive.

Personal timestamps on a neighborhood map (photo courtesy bcWORKSHOP).

In 1944, the city designated the Tenth Street community a “Negro only” area. In 1947, the neighborhood was zoned for duplex and single-family residential use only.

But to add insult to injury, as desegregation became a drumbeat in the 1960s, construction of Interstate 35 was routed through the neighborhood. (more…)

historic

Photo courtesy Tenth Street Historic District

Editor’s Note: Preserving the historic neighborhoods that have shaped Dallas should be a priority. But despite historic district designations, Black neighborhoods that were home to Dallasites before, during, and after redlining are seeing a troubling amount of demolitions of homes that, residents insist, would be saved if in other historic districts — predominately white historic districts — in the city.

Today begins a look at two of those districts — Tenth Street, and Wheatley Place, where the Folk style, Victorian, and Craftsman houses that tell the stories of Dallas are felled by demolition crews at a rapid clip.

Robert Swann, to many, is the guy you go to when you want to learn about the Tenth Street Historic District. Swann, who has a master’s degree in architecture from Harvard, came back to Dallas and watched as the neighborhood declined.

In 2008, he began to look for a home in the historic neighborhood to buy — and when he found the vacant one he eventually purchased, he found that there were several heirs. That search touched off a personal quest to learn the history of the district.

So when Swann saw the irony in the fact that, during Black History Month, the City of Dallas demolished one house in the historically Black neighborhood on February 14, and had plans to demolish another house soon, he took to Facebook.

228 South Cliff (Photo courtesy Robert Swann)

“Apparently, Dallas celebrates Black History Month by demolishing homes in African American landmark districts,” he said, explaining that 228 South Cliff was demolished, and The William Smith House, located at 1105 E. Ninth St. was in danger. (more…)

Photo courtesy Flickr/Arul Irudayam

Thanks to a new interactive tool, we now know what opportunity looks like in all areas of Dallas. And that tool confirms what many who follow income disparity have known all along — it frequently is manifest most in geography, where decades of policy have wrought pockets of opportunity gaps throughout the city.

The Opportunity Atlas is the result of work done by economist Raj Chetty, his Harvard colleagues, and Census Bureau’s Sonya Porter and Maggie Jones. It uses tax and U.S. Census data to track people’s incomes from one generation to the next.

What it found is that opportunity and income go hand-in-hand, and that in most if not all areas, blocks and neighborhoods don’t magically and suddenly become low income and low opportunity hot spots — they’ve been that way for years.

And more discouraging, children who grew up in those neighborhoods frequently reach adulthood and have families of their own, and make the same low wages their parents did.

“We’re excited that the Census Bureau can provide the public with access to social mobility estimates for the first time through the Opportunity Atlas,” said Ron Jarmin, Deputy Director, and Performing the Non-Exclusive Functions and Duties of the Director of the Census Bureau. “The Atlas has great social significance because no one has ever had access to social mobility estimates at such a granular level.”

The Opportunity Atlas measured average outcomes of Americans by the neighborhood they grew up in. A sample of almost 21 million Americans born between 1978 and 1983 were tacked back to the neighborhoods they were born and raised in, and then income tax returns and census data were used to measure annual earnings.

As part of my research, I looked at the census tracts around three Dallas ISD schools that currently or have had the Improvement Required designation from the Texas Education Agency, meaning that they did not meet state standards. (more…)

If it’s Red, full steam ahead; if it’s Yellow, say “hello;” if it’s Blue, you might’ve missed your queue.

Last week, Seth Fowler wrote about a client of his looking for a home in the sub-$200,000 market close to his job in Bedford.  “Ted” had been on a roller coaster of 43 showings and 11 contract offers … still without a home eight months on and counting. In today’s Dallas, it’s a story that’s been accelerating since the housing market began recovering in 2013. While slacking in the upper end of the market, the entry level remains full steam ahead.

Also last week, Alex Macon posted on D Magazine’s Frontburner about the legacy of redlining and a new set of charts overlaying 1930s redline maps against the current racial makeup of Dallas (U.S. Census data).  It’s clear that the 30-year pox of redlining, from the 1930s until 1968, still infects the Dallas landscape (as it does nationwide in many previously redlined areas).

But what’s the reality? I’m going to find out.

(more…)

IMG_5519

After someone sent me a story about the mindset behind a certain email circulating regarding Highland Park ISD’s bond election, you know what stuck out to me?

Besides the fact that it felt like a prop from recent HBO miniseries “Show Me a Hero,” which unspooled the whole mess Yonkers, N.Y., found itself in regarding affordable housing, the other thing was this: There was absolutely no attempt to show any work regarding assertions. No aspersions cast on the writer of the story — he’s just quoting a guy. My beef is with the lack of solid bonafides behind the claims.  I used to have this editor that got all kinds of twitchy and irritable when (even in an op-ed) you didn’t at least attempt to give some sourcing for your assertions. “SHOW YOUR WORK,” he’d bellow.

So instead of picking apart the arguments in that email (and the quotes in that story) based on my ideological differences with the claims, I decided to approach things with an open mind and actually look at real studies done on affordable housing and crime. I mean, what if the guy was right? Or, what if he was quite wrong? Don’t you think it deserves a little look-see, at least, to see what we can find from reputable sources?

The area highlighted in red roughly shows where Highland Park ISD serves Dallas addresses.

The area highlighted in red roughly shows where Highland Park ISD serves Dallas addresses.

First off, let’s unpack where this particular brand of NIMBY likely came from. If I had to guess, it probably dates as far back as the 1930s, when the presence of low-income families meant the difference between no ability to get a home loan (areas that had predominantly black families and low-income families were redlined), or even as much of a difference as 80 percent financed/20 percent down (for an area with no low-income families and solely white) or 15 percent financed and 85 percent down (in an area where there was a racial mix and a lot of low-income families). The appearance of low-income or non-white ethnicities in your neighborhood during this time was a harbinger of plummeting property values and hardship.

But what about now? Is that true?

(more…)

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.

Candy,

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…)