A ground-breaking for much-needed affordable housing in Dallas Thursday signaled an even bigger change for a long-neglected neighborhood.
Banks and private foundations are partners with the non-profit Builders of Hope Community Development Corporation to get 300 new affordable homes on vacant lots in the South Dallas Mill City neighborhood over the next five years.
Mill City Neighborhood Association leader Alendra Lyons said it was a vibrant area when she grew up there.
“It was a thriving area where people were 80% and 20% rental. Now that has flipped,” she said.
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Affordable housing is an enormous Dallas challenge. The city needs an estimated 20,000 units at prices workforce owners can afford, close to jobs, without the gentrification that can price existing residents out.
“We need to make sure that there's an opportunity for growth within the community that exists here and we don't see the displacement that we've seen take place in other neighborhoods,” Dallas City Councilman Adam Bazaldua said.
The new Builders of Hope homes will have granite counters, wood floors and three or four bedrooms for around $200,000, a price that is very hard to find for decent Dallas housing today.
Wells Fargo Bank, Benchmark Bank and the Muse Family Foundation are partners in the Builders of Hope project.
“I think almost every day we see a new headline about the affordability crisis in our city, and how the pandemic and supply chain constraints are making that crisis even worse. But, today there is hope,” said Mallory Muse, a Muse Foundation Vice President. “Our foundation believes strongly that everyone deserves equal access to opportunity and we are passionate about economic mobility in the city of Dallas.”
City of Dallas Housing Director David Noguera also attended the groundbreaking.
“When you look at the math that’s involved to offer these homes at affordable rates for lower-income families, it doesn’t come easy. And here in Dallas, we don’t have many non-profit developers like Builders of Hope that are stepping up and taking on this challenge. So, I commend you,” Noguera said.
The neighborhood has a recently constructed Dallas Fire Station.
A new community park is planned nearby on a Fair Park parking lot that used to be filled with homes generations ago before those homeowners were removed.
“What I see is a collaboration of all of the key players that it’s going to take to build hope in a very resilient neighborhood,” Bazaldua said.
There is also passion from Pastor James Armstrong, the Builders of Hope leader, who was raised in public housing projects.
“Our family did not get stabilized until we got an affordable home. So it’s very important. It’s the key, the cornerstone of community development, the cornerstone of economic mobility,” Armstrong said.
Alendra Lyons praised the partnership that is working to make her neighborhood better.
“Thank you all so much for being present here today,” she said.
Builders of Hope is also working in West Dallas and other neighborhoods.
Applications can be found at their website.