On Tuesday, Feb. 11, we kicked off our 2020 TREC Talks series with a reception featuring Dallas City Councilman Chad West (District 1). West, who is chair of the Housing and Homelessness Solutions Committee, joined members of TREC’s Public Policy Committee and Political Action Committee to discuss his office’s top priorities and important upcoming items and issues.
Here are the three most important things we learned from his talk:
Housing Policy Progress
After serving on the City Plan Commission (2017-18) and Bond Task Force (2012 and 2017), West was appointed following his election to the Housing and Homelessness Solutions Committee, which over the last seven months led a deep dive into the City’s Comprehensive Housing Policy.
The committee’s research identified two steps to take:
- Complete a Land Use Study that compiles all the public land in the City, including those owned and operated by the City of Dallas, Dallas Independent School District (DISD), and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), to aid in coordination between the three entities
- Utilize the study to identify opportunities for land use coordination between the entities, including Transit Oriented Development’s strategic bond allocation, economic development incentives for workforce housing, and co-locating services such as a public school/library combined campus.
Additionally, West updated the members on housing programs currently in effect or being proposed by City staff, such as mixed income housing development bonuses, Chapter 20A amendments (accessory dwelling units), the Home Improvement and Preservation Program (HIPP) and title clearing programs, Public Facilities Corporations (PFC’s), Neighborhood Empowerment Zones (NEZ’s), reviewing voucher requirements in TIF districts, and “Fees in Lieu” of affordable housing. The City also circulated a feedback survey regarding permitting procedures in the Oak Cliff Municipal Center, with findings to be released at a later date.
West said he was concerned that the City’s current Comprehensive Housing Policy does not address housing for residents who make 0-30 percent of Dallas’ average median income ($77,600 for a family of four). Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance counts show Dallas’ rate of homelessness as growing faster than any other city in the south, according to Wayne Walker, Director at the faith-based organization OurCalling. Through reviewing best practices in cities such as Houston and San Antonio, West said the committee plans to reverse this trend by partnering with the religious community to allow them on-church residential housing units for the homeless as well as by purchasing motels associated with frequent 911 calls due to prostitution and crime. These two solutions could help the approximately 2,000 homeless but fully employed individuals that are considered “home ready” but are simply unable to obtain a new home of any type.
At the membership’s behest, West discussed his desire to remove parking minimums, requirements that mandate a certain ratio of parking spaces per square footage or residential units, from City Code. TREC’s Parking Working Group plans to coordinate with City staff by providing additional market data to aid in the assessment of current City parking ordinances.