Dallas Housing Opportunity Fund to fuel diverse housing development and drive economic growth

 

Special to The Dallas Examiner

 

The new Dallas Housing Opportunity Fund, a public-private investment plan to ease the strain of escalating housing costs on local families and fuel economic development in underinvested communities, was approved by the Dallas City Council during its Dec. 8 meeting.

The conditional $6 million economic development grant will seed the new fund. This grant supports the city’s commitment to finance developments that build and sustain diverse housing opportunities for low-and-moderate income households.

“To build for our future, Dallas must support programs and policies that provide and promote fair, affordable and equitable housing,” Mayor Eric Johnson said. “By seeding the Dallas Housing Opportunity Fund, we can strengthen our neighborhoods and improve economic opportunities for all of our residents.”

The fund is a targeted response to Dallas’ urgent need for additional affordable housing units. This effort is meant to promote fair housing by fostering investments that dismantle long-standing patterns of segregated housing. The fund is part of a growing trend of local housing funds that are taking on the nation’s affordable housing crisis by leveraging municipal funds to raise private capital and drive much-needed equitable development.

LISC Fund Management, LLC – a subsidiary of the nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a Community Development Financial Institution certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury – will lead the fund in partnership with The Real Estate Council Community Investors.

TREC CI is a Dallas-based CDFI certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and community investment group. Both LISC and TREC CI are mission-driven organizations that will work with investors and various benefactors to raise capital, connect with developers to identify opportunities, and respond to financing gaps that make it difficult for promising diverse housing development efforts to move forward.

“The city of Dallas is excited to collaborate with TREC and LISC, two formidable organizations that have the passion and breadth to create meaningful solutions to build housing diversity capacity,” said Dr. Eric A. Johnson, City of Dallas Chief of Economic Development and Neighborhood Services. “We appreciate the Dallas City Council’s support for this effort. Today’s vote will have an immediate impact on what this fund is able to produce for tomorrow.”

Dallas’ real estate landscape saw $10.8 billion in multifamily housing investments in 2020 alone. That capital on its own is not helping to drive the required expansion for diverse housing options. It is estimated that 51% of low-income Dallas households are considered cost-burdened by housing – spending more on rent than they can afford and less on other goods and services. Soaring rents and home prices make it difficult for essential workers such as teachers, firefighters, retail clerks and health workers to find homes within their means near good jobs and schools.

“The city’s leadership in making affordable housing for its residents a priority will bring increased economic opportunity to the city as a whole,” said George Ashton, president of LFM. “Improving the mixture of housing in Dallas is ultimately good for employers, who may otherwise struggle to attract workers because of prohibitive housing costs, and good for families, who are searching for quality housing near good jobs and schools. Our partnership with TREC CI will provide local expertise for identifying the most serious needs, positively influencing the city for years to come.”

LISC selected TREC CI as its local partner because of TREC’s more than 30-year history of partnering with more than 250 nonprofits to serve the Dallas community, and for its continued focus on providing catalytic investments that transform the city’s most traditionally underserved neighborhoods. As a CDFI, TREC Community Investors has been making loans and investments for mixed income housing and economic development projects and provides significant technical assistance to developers.

“This momentous vote by the city of Dallas recognizes that the challenge of providing accessible housing requires a new approach through a public/private partnership with LISC,” said Linda McMahon, CEO of TREC Community Investors. “As a social impact investment, this fund will provide developers with options for capital to ensure the housing is affordable for the long term.”

For more on the Dallas Housing Opportunity Fund, visit https://www.liscstrategicinvestments.org/dallas-housing-opportunity.

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