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Affordable housing a "crisis" in Dallas, speakers urge council to boost funding in proposed bond

Dallas City Council under scrutiny for projects included in $1B bond package
Dallas City Council under scrutiny for projects included in $1B bond package 02:07

DALLAS - A clearer picture has emerged in Dallas of the priorities in a proposed $1-billion bond package in the works for next year.

And already critics are chastising the city council for, in their words -- putting parks over people.

"I want to tell you just about a couple of our clients," shared Sharla Myers, CEO of the Community Council of Greater Dallas. "I have a working mom with five children whose husband suddenly left and can't be found. She's been a supervisor at a fast food restaurant for 13 years, could no longer afford her rent, has been evicted. She and her family will be homeless at the end of January if we can't find them housing.  I have an 80 year old client who is on a fixed income. Rent was raised. She can't afford it anymore. She'll be homeless at the end of December."

Although a community task force has worked to make the recommendations, the council is under pressure to make affordable housing more of a priority.  

For now, here's a rough breakdown of the proposed $1.1 billion dollar package that could go before voters in the spring.

Street and Transportation:

Park and Recreation:

Public Safety Facilities:

Flood Protection and Storm Drainage:

Economic Development:

Cultural Arts Facilities:

Library Facilities:

City Facilities:


"I'm frankly a little shocked by the task force's recommendation. I am somewhat encouraged by the city manager's proposal to increase that amount, but it's not close to enough," argued Philip Kingston, a former Dallas City Council member.

Kingston and others urged the current council to allocate at least $200-million to affordable housing efforts.  

"The fact remains: median income is $58,000 a year. Median rent would require an income of $75,000 a year to $1800 bucks a month. When people are forced to pay more than 30% of their income for housing, they don't do a bunch of other things. They don't pay for health care for themselves and their children. They don't invest in our city. They don't save money. They don't buy consumer goods and pay sales tax on the things that they buy. They frankly, aren't living to the extent we would want them to."

And then there were the stories shared about those who couldn't manage the rent at all.

"At one point, if your rent is more than half of your whatever your paycheck is, you only have half of your paycheck to cover bills and groceries and all that," explains veteran Jessie Gray. 

Gray said she is grateful for a project of tiny homes in Palmer, in Ellis County, because the effort rescued him from the street.

The Operation Tiny House founder, Valerie Ballard, said the program was planted in Palmer, because Dallas was not affordable.

"This is about everybody," said Ballard at Dallas city hall.  "We have families that cannot pay rent.  Miss Carr lost her home today.  She couldn't be here because she's moving out of her house.  She couldn't afford to get it repaired. Nothing is affordable in Dallas for them. So she's living in a RV today."  

Ballard and others took special note of the disparity between proposed bond funds earmarked for housing, and the $225 million planned for parks.

"If we put ten times more money into our parks than we do into housing," scolded Myers, "the message we're sending (whether we mean it or not) is that we either don't believe affordable housing is a problem in Dallas, or we don't care."

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