Why Won’t the Dallas City Council Say AMEN to Low Income Housing in Fair Park?

Posted on Posted in Issues

You may have heard about a housing development conceived by Frazier Revitalization, a nonprofit founded by former Trammell Crow chairman and chief executive Don Williams, in Fair Park near Hatcher Station, a DART Station. Or you may, like I used to before I started this blog, sort of zone out about any news about anything south of downtown Dallas. I mean really, there is only so much you can digest in one day.

But you probably are still, like me,  reeling from paying your property taxes. You do know that the only way to keep those puppies from killing us — taxes, that is — is to elevate the parts of Dallas that look like Cuba, from when I recently returned. Cuba has a lot of problems, not unlike some of our blighted areas in the U.S. We desperately need to bring affordable housing to certain parts of our cities, housing and a grocery store or two where folks can buy healthy, fresh food. That’s what we kept saying in Cuba: where are the grocery stores? Where are they in parts of South Dallas?

See, in Preston Hollow and North Dallas, we agonize over whether we should hit Whole Foods, Central Market or the new Eatzies coming to Preston Royal Village? Decisions, decisions.

But go south of the Trinity, to Fair Park: it’s a dang food desert that seriously reminds me of Cuba.

So you would think that when someone comes in and offers not just quality low income housing —  78 multifamily units, called The Residences at Hatcher Station, only 10 of which would be available at market rate, the rest earmarked as low rent for teachers aides, fireman, mechanics and the like —  the Dallas City Council would be all over it. Jumping for joy, too, at the potential for a little new tax revenue.

But no, they are not. Or at least, haven’t been. Haven’t even approved it. Why?

 

Dallas City Hall has said, repeatedly, that it will not — because it cannot — support Frazier’s efforts to build The Residences at Hatcher Station using around $2 million in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs tax credits overseen by the feds.

The City says the project is a no-go because it shoves subsidized housing into a poor, minority district. The Hatcher Station area is definitely high poverty. The kerfluffle is because the city was sued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and settled that case by cutting a deal with HUD to agree to stop (essentially) redlining, this development would be going against the grain of that handshake deal.

Course, that leaves the dirt there vacant and fallow and not producing anything resembling tax revenue or warm, clean homes where kids can do homework and color with crayons. Which, HUD deal or not, is bad for the city as a whole and sure won’t begin to put a dime in the tax coffers.

Robert Wilonsky hints there may also be political reasons why this is not happening: the City Councilwoman for the area, Ms. Tiffinni Young, says she doesn’t want any low income housing units in her neighborhood. Really, she just doesn’t want anything having to do with Don Williams, the man who is fighting for more options for Fair Park. Funny thing, she didn’t want a private mini storage space there, either. Ten days ago she didn’t want to grant a Specific Use Permit for a mini-warehouse use on 3 acres of land surrounded by major transmission lines, a site that has seen some illegal dumping in the past, according to City Councilman Ricky Callahan, who couldn’t figure out why Ms. Young was in such opposition to this use of the land:

So right now it’s a dog run, a trash catch; nothing can be done with it. … And I just feel like I had to speak out. I don’t like to go into someone else’s district. It doesn’t give me any joy to do that. But on my business card it also says I’m a Dallas city councilman. And when I see disparity or unfairness, then I have to speak out.”

It does make you wonder, what DOES Ms. Young want to see in her district to generate economic development, help her constituents own homes and enjoy a better quality of life?

Here is the ad that Frazier Revitalization took out in the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday in advance of Wednesday’s City Council meeting on this development.

Open Letter to City of Dallas – DMN 2.21.17 by Joanna England on Scribd

And here is a video about the Residences at Hatcher Station. The City Council takes this up tomorrow. Don’t be shy, tell your City Council representative that we need some solid development south of the Trinity, to keep us out of personal bankruptcy NORTH of the Trinity:

 

 

 

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