Home for the Homeless

This is a rendering of the entrance to [email protected], the Central Dallas Ministries' low-income downtown housing project.

Everything you need to know about the Central Dallas Community Development Corporation you can find right here. Long story short: It's the 8-year-old 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation created by Larry James' Central Dallas Ministries, and it has Community Housing Development Organization status, which means it's obligated to provide decent, affordable housing to low-income households.

Everything you need to know about how CDCDC (wait...that doesn't look right...) is fulfilling its obligation can be found right here. Long story short: You know that long-debated low-income housing project James has been wanting to build at 511 N. Akard? The one that got $1.75 million from the city and another $12 million in low-income housing tax credits from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs last spring? Well, on Monday the CDCDC finally acquired the property, which means the 15-story office tower built in the mid-1950s is well on its way to becoming a 209-unit apartment building called [email protected] (It's also going to have ground-level retail and and two floors of office space.)

In the press release issued earlier this week, James said, "Downtown is the heart of Dallas' thriving business community, but that heart could not beat without the thousands of low-income people who work in downtown's stores, restaurants and parking areas. This project will reserve a space for these workers to live downtown... Dallas currently has less than one unit of permanent housing for every 25 homeless people that need a home. We firmly believe that providing our homeless neighbors with a place of their own will allow them to address the most significant problems that forced them onto the streets of our city."

At the moment, 511 N. Akard is a home for squatters; it's a homeless shelter in the worst sense of the phrase. To those who fear the place is going to become nothing more than a homeless shelter, the CDCDC says on it Web site:

We do not seek to provide a shelter or social services center.

We do seek to provide 209 units of housing: 9 market-rate units, 150 affordable units for low-income persons 50 units for the formerly homeless who have been referred to us by partner agencies.

We also plan to move several of our administrative offices into the same building. So, in essence, we will be living with the folks day-by-day.

Above all, we seek to build a community. Contact us to learn more. Or, download our presentation to the Dallas City Council below.

And, we gotta admit, the plans for the place do look pretty spiffy. We're sure somebody's still got some objections--s'up, Mitchell?--but as of Monday, well, looks like it's a done deal at long last.

And in case you've forgotten, James maintains his Urban Daily blog, where today he cites stats from the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas' latest "community needs assessment"--which says, among other things, that more than 17 percent of the families in Dallas "live at or below the poverty line" and "Dallas has exceeded the state's average for percentage of impoverished families"--and asks, "What kind of city accepts such harsh realities for its families?" Well, the city that lives large and thinks big, d'uh. --Robert Wilonsky

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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