Child Caught in Gunfight's Crossfire in Troubled City-Run Apartments

Gunfire injured a child on Friday during a fight in the parking lot of the Dallas Housing Authority-owned Hidden Ridge Apartments in Lake Highlands. According to the Dallas Police Department, someone shot into a crowd of people, striking the unidentified child. Someone in the crowd then fired at the shooter.

The child and another gunshot victim sought treatment at a nearby hospital and are expected to recover.

Beyond the age of the younger shooting victim, crime is not out of the ordinary for the apartment complex. Over the last 12 months, Dallas police have responded and filed reports at Hidden Ridge 15 times. Four of those calls involved guns and six more resulted from alleged robberies or assaults, most of which started or finished in the parking lot.

On Sept. 30, 2015, two armed men shot and robbed Kevin Harris outside of his unit on the first floor. Last November, someone threatened to shoot Djoser Userkat. June 3, an unknown assailant attacked Londa Hayter in the Hidden Ridge parking lot and June 28, robbers forced Edgar Bates into his unit at gunpoint and robbed his apartment.

The list goes on. Car windows are broken on a regular basis and property is regularly stripped from its rightful owner at Hidden Ridge.

The housing unit is the focal point of crime. Over the same time period — from Sept. 17, 2015 to Sept. 16, 2016 — The Lex Apartments, located across the street from Hidden Ridge at 9701 West Ferris Branch Road have only been visited by police twice. One visit involved a storage unit burglary and the other for a former tenant removing complex property while moving out.

Similarly-sized complexes in other parts of the city, like the Grand Estates at Founders Park in Oak Cliff or The Village Apartments in northeast Dallas saw no calls for criminal incidents over the same time.

These stark statistics highlight the conditions of these who receive low-income housing assistance. They find themselves in subsidized ghettos. And that means a lack of safety for recipients and their families.    

The city has a plan to help people on subsidized housing live somewhere more secure than Hidden Ridge — passing an ordinance that would require apartment complexes across the city to accept any form of payment, including Section 8 vouchers. That plan will face considerable push-back from the Texas state government in Austin, which has banned source-of-income non-discrimination ordinances.

Some members of the city council, including landlord-ally Lee Kleinman, want Austin to butt out of city business and have indicated a willingness to fight the state on the issue.

The business-as-usual gunfight at Hidden Ridge on Friday is a reminder that this political fight has very real human consequences.

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