New Dallas Program Would Create 81,000 Affordable Homes in the Next 25 Years

A new program would create 3,264 affordable housing units annually for the next 25 years.
A new program would create 3,264 affordable housing units annually for the next 25 years. Jim Schutze
The city’s plans to confront its affordable housing shortage haven’t quite met their marks over the years. In 2018, Dallas promised thousands of affordable units, but only delivered a few hundred. The need has only grown since then and will continue to do so, according to the preliminary findings of a housing study given to the city last week.

Now, another plan is on the table.

The city, through the Office of Economic Development, is looking for an organization to launch an Affordable Housing Revolving Loan Program. It calls for the creation of 3,264 affordable housing units annually for the next 25 years. The organization chosen will design the program, raise the money and underwrite affordable housing projects that will support low- and moderate-income housing developments.

Eric A. Johnson, Dallas’ Chief of Economic Development and Neighborhood Services, said while the program won’t solve all of the city’s housing problems, “it is an immediate step toward creating solutions.”

Johnson said the city would assist the organization with structuring the program, setting production goals, reporting requirements and aligning the underwriting of affordable housing projects. Additionally, he said the city will provide its limited resources and money "to help seed the fund that will allow them to go out, grow and get us more."

The city is looking for experienced organizations to submit proposals for the program by Dec. 3.

According to the city, the program would account for 30% of the household needs predicted and identified by the recent study conducted by the consulting firm BAE Urban Economics Inc. The purpose of the study, which is set for a final draft next month, is to understand the correlation between new development in Dallas and the increased need for affordable housing.

The study found that more than 270,000 households in Dallas are expected to experience problems like overcrowding or cost burdens by 2045.

Additionally, it found that workers in some of the fastest-growing occupations in the Dallas area can’t afford the rent for an average one-bedroom apartment ($1,129) or the 25th percentile house ($239,000) without spending more than 30% of their income.

The Affordable Housing Revolving Loan Program is part of the Community Regeneration Fund. The fund falls under the city’s Community Transformation Action Roadmap, which calls for an increased focus on private partnerships. This new program is just one of several initiatives in the roadmap that aim to provide the city with more housing.

The program would be the first of its kind in Dallas, Johnson said. It's one of several strategies being pulled from other big cities across the country. "We're not just making this stuff up," he said. "Just because it hasn't been done in Dallas, doesn't mean it's not going to work."

But, the city’s past plans to build thousands of affordable housing units were met by several roadblocks.

In 2018, Dallas had to pay back $1 million after the feds found the city was working with some questionable contractors to revamp dilapidated housing for low-income homeowners. Last year, the city was asked to repay $6 million because federal auditors said there were problems with the oversight of another affordable housing program.

There has also been some success.

In July, the Housing and Homelessness Committee announced that since 2019 it has passed four new housing policies and confirmed the production of 2,626 affordable homes.
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn