Learn how Dallas is preparing to rewrite its housing plan with a focus on racial equity
Rewriting the city’s housing plan with a focus on racial equity aims to undo some of the damage done by the City of Dallas’ long history of discriminatory policies, which have denied black and Latino neighborhoods the same support who contributed to the prosperity of white communities.
“Dallas will never be the city it can be until Dallas becomes an equitable city,” said councilman Casey Thomas, who chairs the council’s housing and homelessness solutions committee. “We need to understand fairness, prioritize fairness and move forward.”
Thomas led efforts to overhaul the city’s current policy, beginning with hiring consultants to audit the city’s current comprehensive housing policy.
This policy, adopted in 2018, sets out three goals, including using the city’s housing plan to “overcome patterns of segregation and concentrations of poverty through incentives and requirements,” and creating options for fairer housing.
However, the consultants’ audit found that the city’s housing policy presented “no vision or strategy” for achieving these goals. A recent complaint to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development argues that the city has in fact increased segregation in HLM since 2018.
The recommendations passed by City Council on Wednesday are intended to provide the missing vision and strategy to strengthen racial equity in Dallas housing policies and practices.
The recommendations are also part of a broader city effort to bring racial equity to the fore in all city departments, Thomas said.
The resolution to formally adopt the recommendations was passed unanimously.
One step forward
The adoption of the recommendations by the council does not really change the policy of the city. Instead, they provide a roadmap for how city staffers should rewrite overall housing policy. This updated policy will need to be reviewed and approved by City Council. This should happen this fall.
To implement the recommendations and work toward racial equity in city housing and other initiatives, the city council will also need to approve funds and pass policies that support communities that have been underserved and marginalized by the city politics.
“Staff can come up with projects and we can come up with all sorts of good ideas, but unless we have the leadership behind us to bring those projects to the city council – after approval – we can’t do it,” said the city housing director. , David Noguera.
Among the recommendations is a revenue stream dedicated to building affordable housing that is “tailored to the scale of the affordable housing shortage in Dallas.” This will likely take the form of a set of voter-approved bonds, although City Manager TC Broadnax said the exact scale and how this might work has not been determined.
The city will also add a goal to the city’s housing plan to address the infrastructure deficit in South Dallas resulting from “generations” of underinvestment.
“We have to understand that if we’re going to level the playing field, it’s not about distributing resources evenly,” said council member Jaime Resendez, who represents Southeast Dallas. “We need significant financial investment that is focused on infrastructure and really filling the opportunity gap in South Dallas, a place that has historically been overlooked.”
But making meaningful progress toward a more equitable housing landscape will take more than the city acting alone. Several board members and speakers at the meeting highlighted the role that banks and other financial institutions will have to play.
Equitable access to capital is crucial for Black and Latino-led developments to get off the ground and for people of color to own. The banking industry has a long history of discriminatory lending practices that have undermined the prosperity of communities of color in Dallas and across the country.
Many lending institutions continue to underserve communities of color in Dallas and across the country.
Council member Carolyn King Arnold suggested the city review the performance of the institutions it relies on.
“We need to take a Rosa Parks approach to the people we bring our money to as a city. If they don’t do business with [Black and Latino communities]they will continue to redline…we need to stop doing business with them and we need to call them.
Arnold said she regularly hears of black entrepreneurs who wanted to build in the southern sector but couldn’t get loans from the bank to start their projects.
Recommendations are, functionally, marching orders for city personnel. They will spend the rest of the year figuring out how to apply the recommendations and turn them into municipal policies and practices.
The first three recommendations call for the creation of a vision statement on “how the playing field of affordable housing will be leveled for all racial groups”, a city-wide strategy to achieve this, and the establishment of clear benchmarks for progress.
Another recommendation calls for an education campaign for staff, policy makers and the public about what racial equity means in the context of affordable housing.
One of the recommendations adopted by the city concerns the placement of affordable apartment projects subsidized by federal tax credits. It calls for placing such projects “both in high opportunity areas with low poverty rates and in distressed areas with higher poverty rates.” [poverty] rates.”
The city is currently facing a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on behalf of a Dallas resident who claims the city concentrated these subsidized affordable housing developments in black and Latino neighborhoods in violation of the Fair Housing Act and other civil rights. laws.
There are also recommendations that address the risk of backlash against the expansion of affordable housing. This includes a “debunking campaign” to dispel the misinformation that fuels NIMBYism, and a focus on building affordable housing across the council’s 14 districts.
Do you have any advice? Christopher Connelly is KERA’s One Crisis Away reporter, exploring life on the edge of finance. Email Christopher at [email protected] .You can follow Christopher on Twitter @hithisischris.
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