The City of Dallas adopted a Comprehensive Housing Policy in May, but elected officials, city staff, and homeowners alike have criticized the document and called for an overhaul.
That’s underway now, with the guidance of consultants from Community Equity Strategies, and a new draft policy is slated for review by the Dallas City Council in February.
In short, it’s complicated.
Director of Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization David Noguera graciously provided answers to questions from CandysDirt.com about the Comprehensive Housing Policy and how it impacts local homeowners, neighborhoods, and the real estate community.
What is the purpose of the Comprehensive Housing Policy?
Noguera: It is the city’s mandate for how we invest in the development and preservation of mixed-income housing.
Why overhaul it?
Noguera: The Comprehensive Housing Policy was adopted in response to compliance challenges, concerns with the growth of Racially/Ethnically Concentrated Areas of Poverty (RECAP), and the need for more affordable housing. Unfortunately, this policy has fallen short in some areas.
- Operates independently of other City policies and plans, which has stifled its impact.
- Applies a “build from strength and work toward depressed areas” approach, which sounds good in concept, but is not practical or timely for historically disadvantaged communities that are typically found in depressed areas.
- Lacks true metrics on what the policy and programs are expected to achieve, which impacts credibility with community stakeholders.
What specific issues need to be addressed that were overlooked or not fleshed out in the original document?
Noguera: Neighborhood Revitalization. Our production since 2018 has been impressive with over 14,000 mixed-income housing units in the pipeline, but we’re not revitalizing neighborhoods in any comprehensive way and residents are tired of waiting.
We need to align housing production with infrastructure investments and quality-of-life factors like environmental remediation, crime reduction, and retail enhancements.
What’s the timeline for a council presentation, review, and adoption?
Noguera: As of now, we plan to present an overview of the policy and implementation plan to the Dallas City Council on Feb. 1. We’ll gather feedback to refine the policy document and present it to Council for consideration in March.
Is it correct that there’s been a recommendation to dismantle the Housing Policy Task Force? Why?
Noguera: Yes and no. The Housing Policy Task Force has evolved since 2018. It started out as a handful of individuals who reviewed and advised the City on policies and programs and then it became a listserv of more than 600 individuals who engaged on topics of interest through large meetings, emails, and follow-up conversations.
Neither structure was impactful in generating inclusive community engagement. The proposed policy recommends developing a sustainable community engagement structure that will be used to inform an inclusive housing task force. Cutting that critical step to stand up a task force just gets us back to where we were in 2018.
What do you think a good housing policy can do to improve the City of Dallas?
Noguera: When done right, a housing policy can build confidence in the work we do from residents, housing advocates, and developers. It also encourages participation across city departments and the private sector that will be needed to achieve the policy goals.
How does racial equity fit into this plan?
Noguera: Building racial equity is a process, not a single activity.
In housing, we look at building racial equity through community investments that improve the overall quality of life for current residents and others who will be attracted to live in Dallas neighborhoods.
Are you pleased with the work that’s been done by the consultants with Community Equity Strategies?
Noguera: I’ve worked in housing for a long time, writing policies, designing programs, and implementing projects. Community Equity Strategies has helped remind me of who we are working for, Dallas residents, and the significance of gaining their buy-in to our investment strategies.
From the racial equity audit to the housing policy recommendations, CES has shown me how we carry out this work in a transparent and inclusive manner that can be measured and evaluated on a continuous basis.
What are the basic housing needs in the City of Dallas (diversity, more stock, affordability, etc.)?
Noguera: Dallas needs housing for residents across the income spectrum, in a variety of product types that meet the market demands (tiny homes, modular homes, condos, townhomes, apartments, single-family detached, and luxury homes) for current and future residents who choose to live in northern or southern parts of the city.
Anything else you want to add?
Noguera: Policy development is an evolutionary process that needs to be responsive to all residents. Our work in housing should be directed by our City’s comprehensive plan, in coordination with other city policies, and implemented through a racial equity lens.
If we can achieve this standard, Dallas will become the model that other major cities follow.