May. 23, 2016 by Ben Leal, CEO, Jubilee Park and Community Center

On the Right Track with TREC Foundation

Imagine you pay $950 a month in rent for a one bed, one bath apartment. Not too bad, right? Now imagine your apartment has mold, water damage, no central air or heat. And you only make $19,000 a year. And you are a family of four, with two young children.

For the Hernandez family, that was reality until a year ago. In 2014, Jubilee Park and Community Center began constructing affordable LEED Silver homes in our community in partnership with the City of Dallas, TREC Foundation, EarthDay TX, and PlainsCapital. We began the way we always begin – by asking the Jubilee Park community what they wanted. After commissioning a study from University of Texas at Arlington, we found out our residents wanted three bedroom, two bath homes with a yard and attached garage. And quality construction they could be proud of. So in 2014, Jubilee embarked on an ambitious (but reasonable) Affordable Housing Initiative.

How do we make it work? First, we purchase land in the Jubilee neighborhood. We purchase land bank lots, surplus lots, blighted lots that have been condemned or vacant lots. Then, we build a $165,000 home on the lot. Wait, is that affordable for Jubilee? No. That’s where funders (like TREC Foundation!) come in.

Jubilee raises private funds, and kicks in $25,000. The City of Dallas matches that $25,000 donation. Then Housing and Urban Development (HUD) kicks in $20,000. Next, Trammel S. Crow contributes $15,000. Now we’re talking about an affordable home. With those subsidies, our product is now around $80,000, which is an affordable home in Jubilee Park. Residents must live in the home eight years, or sell the home to another low-income family in order to keep the subsidies.

Our partners, East Dallas Community Organization (EDCO), help us by supervising construction and handling the marketing and homebuyer education. Jubilee requires that homebuyers attend classes both before and after their purchase to learn about credit, budgeting for a home, utilities, watering the foundation, and all the things you should know when purchasing and owning a home.

Now back to the Hernandez family. They moved into a three bedroom, two bath home with a yard and attached garage. Their home is LEED Silver certified, saving them about $1,000 in utilities a year. Now they pay $717 per month in a mortgage, gained $80,000 in instant equity, and don’t have to put buckets in the bedroom when it rains.

The City of Dallas has proclaimed the Jubilee Park Housing Initiative the most successful affordable housing project they’ve ever had. So far, 11 families have purchased homes and that will double by the end of 2017. We’ve also built 24 affordable green homes for senior citizens in our neighborhood, also with funds from TREC Foundation (thanks!).

We always say that Jubilee is built on relationships and the collaborative efforts of our fantastic partners in our Affordable Housing Initiative really drives that home.

Ben Leal has been the CEO at Jubilee Park for the past six years. Leal is committed to creating a thriving and sustainable community with the residents of Jubilee Park by serving as a catalyst for comprehensive community owned initiatives, including housing, education, public safety, public health, economic development. Check out Jubilee on Facebook.