1,000-Unit Affordable Housing Challenge Progress Praised

New housing to be built on vacant city owned land

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Affordable housing is an urgent Dallas need, so there was praise Monday from Dallas City Council Members on progress in a 1,000-unit challenge issued last year.

City councilman Chad West led the challenge, with an estimated need for at least 20,000 more units of affordable housing to accommodate Dallas workers.

“It includes a lot of the folks who work in the city of Dallas but can’t afford to live here or can barely afford to live here. So, they’re going to Grand Prairie and other cities and we’re trying to get them back in the city,” West said.

The challenge was to build the units near public transit on city-owned land that is vacant.

“I think the inspiration really came from realizing that we have hundreds of acres of non-used or under-utilized city-owned land really close to DART train stations,” West said.

A briefing for the Dallas City Council Housing Committee Monday said bids from developers had been received to construct 732 new units at three of the five city-owned parcels near public transit that were identified for the program.

The plans call for donating the city land to help make the housing construction more affordable.

The locations are 3015 Al Lipsomb Way near the Martin Luther King DART rail station, 4515 S. Lancaster near the VA Medical Center Station and 6601 S. Lancaster near the Ledbetter Station.

“It's exciting. And we need more housing units. And it's mixed-income so it hits all the targets. So please, please, expedite it and get it done,” Council Member Paula Blackmon said.

The original goal was to issue building permits by August 2021, but that won’t happen, partly because zoning changes are still needed on two of the parcels.

“I see it as a win despite the fact that they didn't really meet the deadline,” West said. “We're getting a little less than 1,000 but it's pretty close and it's a step in the right direction.”

The projects are advancing much faster than typical city of Dallas deals.

“Really good job, and I'm impressed that you got this far this fast, so keep up the good work,” Council Member Cara Mendelsohn said to city staff about Monday’s report.

Another possible location for additional affordable housing is vast parking lots around DART rail stations that were required by city policy, but are seldom used.

“You could be putting affordable housing up on those locations which would then make it easier for people to maybe get to work without having to use a car,” West said.

Council members told city staff to work with DART on that option for the future.

The plans currently proposed were endorsed by the Housing Committee Monday and are due for a vote of the full City Council on Wednesday.

Actual construction may be six to nine months away.

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