In a measured approach to revitalizing neighborhoods while attempting to curb gentrification, Dallas has adopted a mixed-income citywide housing policy to provide greater economic and social benefits to the community at large.
Taking on an increasingly common approach applied by much of the US already, Dallas’ new housing plan paints an optimistic picture as officials explain they hope to minimize class segregation, provide affordable housing, and diversify areas. As Dallas utilizes mixed-income housing, which is theorized to benefit lower-class communities by helping to stimulate economic growth, its approach is entirely distinct. Economists and politicians across the country have not reached a consensus in a set directive to ensure the viability of mixed-income housing, as more specific means of establishing it within a community must be fine-tuned to the local economy to ensure success.
Through mixed-income housing, residents across two or three income tiers dwell in a common residential area. This could apply broadly, such as varying housing rates between households on neighboring streets, or could refer to differences in affordability within the same complex. As the extent of economic diversification is subject to vast differences between mixed-income housing developments, what defines as a success or a failure is subject to its particular approach. David Noguera, Director of Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization, is undertaking the project with high hopes for success.
Tasked with investing the city’s resources in the development and preservation of mixed-income housing, the Department of Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization “designs and operates programs and [works with] corporations that invest in the development and preservation of mixed-income housing.”
Potential difficulty in securing funding is the chief criticism of these projects. Even success stories do not secure sponsorship with as much ease as approaches prioritizing middle-class homeowners and renters. However, the new housing policy strives to make headway in combatting this drawback through several programs to provide benefits for both existing homeowners and potential buyers moving into revitalized neighborhoods. The city provides financial benefits for those currently living in these areas that are performing minor-to-major renovations on their home. Additionally, companies and owners who provide affordable housing both in multi-tenant properties and single-family homes receive incentives to maintain ownership or undertake housing projects.
“Dallas Housing Policy 2033 (DHP33) takes a targeted approach to development based on performance metrics and time,” Noguera explains. “The former Comprehensive Housing Policy provided a compliance framework and produced a pipeline of 16,000 units, but it was not impactful in revitalizing communities. By targeting housing programs, city funding, and external investments in a [focused] manner we can improve the quality of life for residents in those areas.”
Other potential concerns expressed surrounding mixed-income housing include possible mistrust between community members, as well as costly infrastructural concerns and expenses to make an area more viable. Variably, apprehension due to fear of displacement of an area’s poorest non-white residents and disruption of class solidarity is a factor. Commonly reported benefits among studies express that working-class residents in mixed-income areas typically have greater accessibility to city resources by dwelling in spaces with middle-class neighbors, prompting greater effort in revitalizing an area. Noguera says the new project applies special attention and measures to minimize the displacement of residents, emphasizing racial equity.
“DHP33 is based on developing housing through a racial equity lens,” Noguera says. “[We formed this plan applying] the 7 Pillars of Housing Equity that are designed to serve historically disadvantaged communities.”
The 7 Pillars of Housing Equity as outlined by the Housing and Homelessness Solutions Committee. Source: City of Dallas.
As constituents are apprehensive to show outright support for the new policy given the shortcomings of previous housing policies adopted by the city. Noguera and his department as a whole are aware, hoping to fully realize the plan in order to provide measurable results to the community and prompt more support and cooperation from residents.
“Residents and housing advocates are in a wait-and-see mode,” Noguera says. “The City has developed lots of plans, but many have not been realized. The constituents want to see results and that’s what we are working towards now.”
Mixed-income housing has elicited a range of responses from communities all over the country, given that methods can vary widely with mixed reception from residents. While many residential areas elsewhere cite economic improvements from taking on the initiative, such as Harbor Point in Boston, Mass. or Emeryville, Calif., others like those undertaken by Chicago Housing Authority have received strong backlash due to displacement of residents and community erasure.
Evoking strong passion from potentially affected residents, DHP33’s full implementation is still pending. However, through support by way of the Mixed-Income Housing Development Bonus, the city has already allocated funding for greater economic integration while utilizing feedback gathered by the Housing Policy Task Force. Prioritizing homeownership, families with children, residents, and those at risk of homelessness, funding is administered through channels to repair homes or provide homebuyer assistance. Constituents remain tentative to give full support as entities working for the City of Dallas express optimism about the viability of the plan.