The Dallas City Council Wednesday approved what several members said was an historic statement about correcting ills of the past.
The council approved 11 housing equity goals that are the results of months of public input and work by consultants.
The goals acknowledge unequal conditions that exist chiefly in Southern Dallas that inhibit fair housing and investment.
Councilman Casey Thomas pushed the issue, saying a similar equity approach will be applied to other areas of city government.
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“Step one is to acknowledge the fact we have implemented policies that have discriminated against people of color and today is the first step in this journey as it relates to housing,” Thomas said. “We're making a commitment to address the infrastructure gap that exists in mostly the southern part of the city. This vote will say that we're serious about that. We're serious about implementing dollars.”
Many people in the city council chamber Wednesday wore buttons supporting the 15 to 0 vote by which the issue passed.
One of the public speakers was Mar Butler, who grew up in West Dallas and leads the Dallas Cred program to interrupt violence before it occurs.
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“I’m able to be with the people on the street every day. I know their pain. I see it. The only way we can really change and be this Greater Dallas, we have to develop a sense of inclusion,” Butler said.
Other members, including Jaime Resendez, echoed the commitment to unequal spending that will be needed on infrastructure to improve neglected areas.
“We have to understand that if we want to level the playing field, it’s not just about spreading around resources equally,” Resendez said. “This is foundational. This impacts quality of life, economic development, education, and importantly, public safety.”
City Housing Director David Noguera said implementing the goals will be an ongoing project with performance metrics to measure success.
“In many cases, we have programs already in place that work toward achieving those policy goals. In other cases we have to develop them,” Noguera said.
North Dallas Council Member Jaynie Schultz said private investment will be needed to achieve the goals.
“And I ask you our lenders to join us in this important effort. I’m so proud to be able to vote for these recommendations,” Schultz said.
The 11 Comprehensive Housing Policy goals include the following.
- Create a CHP vision statement articulating how the affordable housing playing field will be leveled for all racial groups and across the North/South Divide.
- Create a comprehensive, city-wide strategic road map for coordinating the CHP’s array of tools while also leveraging community partnerships to address the very different needs for change from one area of the city to another.
- Establish SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) goals for the CHP that point to the desired state.
- Strengthen linkages between the CHP and neighborhood revitalization strategies that leverage infrastructure improvements, economic revitalization, and mixed-use master planning to build a foundation for increasing generational wealth in historically Black and Brown communities.
- Add a CHP goal around remedying the enormous infrastructure deficit that has persisted in Southern Dallas for generations.
- Utilize an “All 14 Districts” model to combat ubiquitous “Not in my Backyard” (NIMBYism) across all areas of Dallas.
- Create a dedicated revenue stream that is scaled to the magnitude of Dallas’ affordable housing shortage.
- Expand and refine existing CHP programs to create a comprehensive, integrated strategy for preventing displacement during neighborhood revitalization.
- Use the CHP to mandate education for the city staff, policymakers, and the public about what racial equity means in the context of affordable housing and community development.
- Strategically utilize Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) financing in both high opportunity areas with low poverty rates and distressed areas with higher rates.
- Amend the CHP to include myth-busting strategies to help dispel myths about affordable housing that fuel NIMBYism.