Good news on Wednesday for those of us who believe that the City of Dallas needs more high-quality affordable housing. The Dallas City Council approved the application of Larry and Ted Hamilton for tax credits for the Plaza, a former Ramada Hotel located at 1011 S. Akard. This is a project that we started but turned over to the Hamiltons after the neighborhood wouldn’t approve our plan for the building.
I suppose I have slightly mixed feelings. It’s a little like it must feel to see the success of a child you’ve given up for adoption. You feel proud of their success, but a little sad that you can’t really be part of it.
The real sticking point in our plan was the inclusion of fifty units of permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless people. Unfortunately, we still haven’t come up with a convincing way to explain to people what permanent supportive housing is and why it’s good for the community. We try, but most of the time an image of a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter gets out in front of our explanation that all we want to build is an apartment building with enough services to make sure the residents succeed.
Even then, there was an additional ray of hope in the following comments by the President of the Neighborhood Association:
[An agreeable plan] was reached in part because housing for the homeless was removed for the project, said Hamilton and Phillip Robinson, president of the Cedars Neighborhood Association.
"We're hoping we can add that component," Robinson said. "We just want to see it up and running," as in the City Walk at Akard affordable housing project.”
See Roy Appleton’s article in the Dallas Morning News for March 26, 2009: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/politics/local/stories/032609dnmetplazahotel.4aa68aa.html.
If the neighborhoods are only waiting for proof permanent supportive housing can work in Dallas (it’s already working all over the rest of the country), then by this fall we’ll have CityWalk@Akard up and running so everyone can see for themselves. I only regret the fact that given the lead time to take a permanent supportive housing project from concept to conception is three years, that means no matter how convincing CityWalk@Akard is, we won’t be able to follow up with a new project opening until 2012.
None of that diminishes in any way the tremendous job Larry and Ted Hamilton did in reviving this project and, assuming it makes its way to completion, avoiding saddling Dallas with another vacant building. In the end, homes for low-income working people, some of whom will be on the verge of homelessness, is just about as important as homes for those that are already homeless.
Well done Larry! Well done Ted! Congratulations!