Dallas Equity Audit Recommends Housing Policy Reform to End Racial Inequity

Recommendations to receive public input before scheduled April approval.

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A report received Tuesday by a Dallas City Council Committee documents the effects of a history of racial inequity in Dallas and makes 11 recommendations for housing policy reform and a new path forward.

Dallas City Council Member Casey Thomas, a former Dallas NAACP leader, said he pushed for the report (embedded at the bottom of this page) when he became chairman of the Dallas City Council Housing Committee in January.

“Today is a historic day for the City of Dallas,” Thomas said. “Today we want to acknowledge that as a city, we have discriminated against people of color. But going forward, we are committed as a council, as a city to righting that wrong.”

The report comes as Dallas strives to supply an additional 20,000 units of affordable housing.

“What makes this most exciting for Dallas of the future is that it’s going to rise all boats. It’s not taking away from anything. It’s bringing everyone to the table who needs to be there,” City Councilwoman Jaynie Schultz said.

Elite News Publisher Darryl Blair said the report verified the Southern Dallas disparities that community residents already live with and that mayors Mike Rawlings and Eric Johnson have spoken about during their tenures.

“With two administrations, two mayors coming in and recognizing this disparity, then at this particular point now that we have gotten the conversation going, where is the activation,” Blair asked. “I’m looking to see it. They’ve addressed it. Now, where is the activation.”

Darryl Blair
NBC 5 News
Darryl Blair, publisher of Elite News in Dallas.

Thomas said four community meetings are scheduled for public input on action recommendations before a City Council vote that is set for April.

Community Activist Darryl Baker said the recommendations do not go far enough to correct inequity placed on homeowners from the addition of too many apartments in the area.

Baker and his supporters say their Southern Dallas City Council District, which is represented by Thomas, has more low-income housing tax credit apartment projects than any other district.

“Putting money into homeownership gives immediate as well as long-term benefits. Putting money into rentals does not,” he said.

Baker said apartments increase crowding in neighborhood schools and reduce homeowner property values.

Darryl Baker
NBC 5 News
Darryl Baker

He said the city should promote a mix with high-end housing that boosts surrounding property values and neighborhood businesses.

“They should put the money in the pockets, the bottom line accounts of individual homeowners. It's a much better investment than putting it in the pocket of developers,” Baker said.

Blair said Northern Dallas neighborhoods should shoulder more of the affordable housing units.

“Our communities are situated and stable. It's not stable when you put all these apartments in our community,” Blair said.

The Bottom neighborhood of Dallas near Interstate 35E/R.L. Thornton Freeway and the Trinity River is an example of the problem and solutions.

Some old streets there have crumbling pavement and no sidewalks.  But on streets where the city recently paved streets, added new sidewalks and streetlights, new single-family homes are going up.

Other City Council members voiced support for the equity recommendations Tuesday.

“It is something that is long overdue. It is something that has been historically brushed under the rug,” City Councilman Paul Ridley said.

Far North Dallas City Councilwoman Cara Mendelsohn said inequity exists in many places around the city.

“It’s really not a North-South issue. It’s really much more nuanced than that,” she said.

Councilwoman Paula Blackmon suggested drastic reform of Dallas zoning deliberations that was not among the consultant recommendations. She said it could remove some of the politics from land-use cases if city staff made more of the decisions based on strict policy.

Many ideas may be discussed in the coming weeks before the scheduled April policy decisions as the door has opened on racial questions city leaders have been reluctant to confront in the past.


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