The city, through Mayor Mike Rawlings and West Dallas City Councilor Monica Alonzo, says that the Khraish properties are substandard, needing so much maintenance that they aren't fit for habitation. Tenants are suing the family. Khraish Khraish, whose father Hanna Khraish owns the properties, says the city is helping sign up new plaintiffs.
Audio from a 2015 meeting between the mayor and the Khraishes, released by the Observer last week, indicates that the mayor's motives in the case might not be as pure as he suggests. The city might, it seems, actually want to get rid of the houses to make way for development in West Dallas, which abuts Trinity Groves and sits in the shadow of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.
On Friday, Jim Schutze wrote about a recent meeting between Khraish Khraish and the mayor. Khraish told Schutze that he'd brought Bill Hall, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity, to the meeting to help hammer out a deal that would preserve low-income housing in the areas currently served by the Khraishes, and stop the lawsuits and code enforcement activity against the Khraishes that has forced them to seek a way out of the rent-house business.
Audio from the meeting backs up Khraish's version of events.
He wants to sell his West Dallas lots to Habitat, offer his South Dallas tenants the chance to buy their homes and build an assisted living facility for elderly residents currently living in Khraish properties. Khraish insisted to the mayor that any evictions he'd filed, to this point, have been filed because the tenant was not paying rent.
"The evictions that I've filed were for non-payment of rent and had nothing to do with the closure [of the Khraishes' rental business]," Khraish says.
Throughout the meeting, Rawlings insists that, for any sort of a deal to be worked out, the Khraishes' tenants must be allowed to stay in their homes until the end of the ongoing Dallas ISD school year. Khraish is flexible on that point on the tape, but makes it clear that, at some point, the homes are going to be vacated. He just can't run his rental business anymore under the threat of code violations and lawsuits.
"My rental business is closed and everyone needs to leave," he says.
Check out the 30 minute tape for yourself: