Affordable Housing: What Does It Mean for Our Neighborhood?

NOTHING POLARIZES AN ASSEMBLY citizens and municipal leaders as a discussion on affordable housing.

So when the Dallas City Council, bent on tackling a citywide shortage of affordable housing, met last year to consider building several low-income housing tax credit projects ( LIHTC), drama ensued.

The thorniest proposal was for a 200-unit development near Central Expressway and Forest Lane.

It looked promising on paper and garnered support from across the horseshoe world. However, District 10 Representative Adam McGough, echoing residents’ concerns, said, “No way.”

Following McGough’s impassioned dissent, the Board voted 9-6 to move the project forward. (A few weeks later, angry neighbors fought state Rep. John Turner, D-Dallas, who by law could overrule the city council’s decision. The apartments were never built. )

Opposition from neighbors and the councilman has drawn criticism from fellow councilors and city staff, who are under pressure to build homes and scale back what Up For Growth researchers say, from 2020, is a deficit of 87,000 units.

As house prices and rents rise and conversations about housing become more strained, it’s debatable who’s right — landlords demanding a say in neighborhood planning or those arguing we need to build more housing at every opportunity?

The answer, of course, is both. And no more.

Policy makers cannot ignore neighborhood desires and concerns. They would be out of a job if they did.

But the pressure to build and rehabilitate more homes will only increase, and negative public opinion about affordable housing may be a major obstacle to meeting Dallas’ growing needs.

If we can’t engage in more constructive conversations, promising developments will continue to croak in infancy, and our city’s housing demands will go unmet, say those inside the planning world.

Unaffordability can lead to housing insecurity, homelessness and a host of societal issues that affect all socioeconomic brackets, says David Noguera, director of the Dallas Department of Housing and Revitalization.

Ensuring our city is a place where people of varying incomes can rent, finance or buy a home starts with public support for all types of housing, he says.

“We can help create and preserve affordable housing for people earning around $50,000 a year – keep in mind that means some teachers, your delivery drivers, post office staff – or we can let them find out for themselves,” he says.

The problem with the latter, he says, is the sprawl and loss of valuable members of society. Residents are moving further afield or leaving Dallas for a more affordable location.

“Dallas is seeing a level of growth that we haven’t seen in years,” Noguera says. “We are not building enough housing fast enough. Drop the word affordability altogether – we need more, period.

Research from Up for Growth, in a report titled Housing underproduction in the United States 2022supported that.

“Spotting and responding to underproduction trends can improve lives, economies and the planet,” said Mike Kingsella, CEO of Up for Growth, a nonprofit committed to solving the housing shortage and crisis. affordability.

He attributed the underproduction in more than 200 metropolitan areas to “NIMBY-ism (not in my backyard) and exclusionary zoning”.

Noguera has seen examples of people saying they support affordable housing but don’t want it in their neighborhood.

This is often due to a misunderstanding of what affordable housing is, he says.

“When people hear ‘affordable housing’, they think it’s going to attract unwanted neighbors,” he says. “I think, from a certain point of view, we need to educate our residents about what that means and the impact of our decisions.”

But in some cases, purported concerns about traffic, parking, property values, the environment, or the character of the neighborhood mask prejudices and racist attitudes, he says. “I heard things at these meetings that left me speechless,” he says. “These kinds of comments make it harder for anyone trying to do something.”

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