Dallas County turns Oak Cliff apartment complex into transitional housing

Dallas County is buying an apartment complex in East Oak Cliff designed to offer people a fresh start. 

The complex will become transitional housing for men coming out of prison and is a public-private partnership with the Regional Black Contractors Association.

The county invested $6.7 million to buy the complex with American Rescue Plan funds.

"We hear people who talk about reentry, we hear people who talk about a second chance," said commissioner John Wiley Price.

The county is buying the complex at 2125 Second Street to become one-year transitional housing for men returning from prison.

"What we've noticed is that people coming out of the prison system, they might be couch-surfing. Not typically on the street, per se, but still classified as homeless. It’s hard for those people to get housing and once you get to those background check questions and previous rental history, it’s just another barrier," said Kimberly Shaw, Regional Black Contractors Association.

Price said the county found a unique way to use the funds. 

"It was very creative and what the Biden administration said to us is you must have town hall meetings, in your town hall meetings you will get an extraction of what you can use those funds for," Price said.

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It's new name, Joseph Lockridge Housing, is named after one of the first black state legislators from North Texas. It has approximately 70 units and people have to be in training for a job through the Regional Black Contractors program with Dallas College.

"It gives them skills training and certifications that make them competitive when they go out into the workforce," Shaw said.

Some 100 members of the contractor’s association hiring these men and building their own workforce while building back the lives of men. There's support from others who know this journey, like Anthony Virgil.

"Someone who's been in their shoes, who's walked through this process to help them to navigate through this process, so it will be a smoother transition so my role is very simple it's to help them," Virgil said.

"We need to be able to give them that opportunity to be citizens in terms of production and viability," Price said.

"When you give somebody a job the amount of self-esteem you will raise in that person, the self-reliance, the independence that goes a long way, it doesn't just affect them, it affects their children, the community around them and it has a very long-lasting effect," Shaw said.

The complex is set to open in a month and a half.