Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson continued his nationwide listening tour Thursday and stopped in west Dallas to meet with members of the Dallas Housing Authority.
Betty Thomas was hoping to get a few seconds, but just in case she didn't, she brought neon pink and green signs to make her point.
"This community is a poor community. Education, the economy, and housing – all this is tied in together. These are actually the issues that we have been hoping get addressed for many years," Thomas said, sitting inside her grandmother's west Dallas home.
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Thomas was among the nearly dozen west Dallas residents who were hoping to speak with Carson, who was in Dallas Thursday for the latest stop on his nationwide listening tour.
Carson met with the Dallas Housing Authority and was briefed on a number of issues, including the city's affordable housing shortage and how potential cuts to HUD's budget could make things worse.
Thomas thought hearing from longtime residents, like herself, would have been beneficial to the secretary. She never got the chance to speak to him.
"I would tell Dr. Carson if there's anything that he could do for this community, it would be to make sure that funding is being actually spent the way it's supposed to be spent in this community," Thomas said.
The city of Dallas is currently the focus of a HUD investigation. The department is looking into how the city spent millions in federal funding for projects completed several years ago.
Thursday afternoon, Carson stopped by the housing authority's Major League Baseball Youth Academy fields to discuss the role athletics can play in childhood achievement. Those in attendance said it was an important topic, but they had hope to hear about potential solutions to slowing the gentrification creeping into west Dallas.
"We have parents that are being forced out. We have students that are going with their parents out of west Dallas," said Dallas ISD Trustee Dr. Lew Blackburn. "I think people put a bug in his ear that HUD needs to do a little bit more to help with the affordable housing condition that we have right now."
Without a solution Thomas fears that many of the family and friends who have lived in west Dallas for decades could be displaced.
"The children's future in this community is what I'm concerned with," Thomas said. "If their intentions are to build up and lift this community, that's fine. That's great, but don't displace. Don't kick people out, and don't make the children suffer."