Disadvantaged Families May Get Dallas Cash

Programs for equity funding are yet to be finalized

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Dallas is considering a plan to give monthly cash directly to disadvantaged families.

Better than expected sales tax revenue is a source to help make the payments.

It’s part of an equity plan that had overwhelming support from the Dallas City Council in August.

The initial suggestion for the payment plan is $250 a month for a year for 325 families.

Who gets the money could be decided by an outside nonprofit group to be selected by the city. Dallas has used this approach to administer some other programs like rental or housing assistance. But Dallas has never before handed out city cash to families.

“It's a big step and it's definitely a step we need to take,” Councilman Casey Thomas said.

Thomas was an early supporter of the equity plan, intended to correct past injustice. He said this program could benefit families the way federal child tax credits have.

“We've seen where tax credits have been used. An extra $300, $400, $500 a month to help families, has been able to help them stay in their homes, make car payments, take care of utilities especially coming out of the pandemic,” Thomas said.

These payments are one option on a list from city staff provided Friday to council members on ways to implement the racial equity plan.

The number one option on that list is access to Martyr’s Park, a small isolated piece of downtown land beside a Stemmons Freeway entrance ramp that is to become an equity monument site.

Other programs include better communication for language diverse communities, neighborhood air quality monitoring, homebuyer assistance and infrastructure improvements for underserved neighborhoods.

The equity plan was approved in a 14 to 1 vote on August 24 with only Councilmember Cara Mendelsohn voting no.

She said Dallas has problems providing basic services all around the city and has one of the nation’s highest poverty rates.  Mendelsohn said funding basic services and a southern Dallas plan should be the priority instead of the equity plan that had very few details at the time.

Thursday she said she does not support the direct payment plan.

“I’m not a fan of giving away taxpayers’ dollars with no accountability,” Mendelsohn said.

Similar plans are already in place in other U.S. cities including Austin’s “Up Together” program.

The new Dallas city budget approved Wednesday already included $20 million for equity programs. Another $20 million from the excess sales tax revenue was added before final approval.

The plans released by city staff Friday were an effort to provide more details about the use of the money but none of the programs are final yet.

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