New affordable housing rules could be a game changer in Dallas County

By Lori Brown

This week, the Obama administration handed down sweeping new affordable housing rules.

The new rules are an attempt to allow those receiving government housing assistance to live in more desirable and less segregated neighborhoods.

Dallas County is still pouring through the 386 pages of new rules that will change the face of who lives where. The new rules are expected to blur socioeconomic lines in neighborhoods across North Texas.

“I like my school, but I'm not learning much, so when I come home my mom helps me,” said 8-year-old Jordan Brown, who lives in a Dallas apartment complex run by the Dallas Housing Authority with her parents and brother.

Currently, practically all of Dallas County's affordable housing is concentrated in West Dallas and South Dallas.

But the rules would lead to, say, two families on a block receiving housing subsidies instead of an entire block.

“Is this a game changer for Dallas County?" said FOX 4’s Lori Brown.

"I think it can be a game changer for the cities in Dallas County,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. “By no fault of anyone, we've seen an increase of segregation in our schools and neighborhoods. This is a way we can open up our community; make it stronger. We're stronger when we're all together."

Under the new rules, it is now the responsibility of Dallas and Frisco and Allen and every municipality to make sure their U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds are going to more desirable neighborhoods, and if cities and counties don't proactively work to reduce segregation, they could face penalties.

“I'm not afraid of these new rules,” said Jenkins. “I see them as an opportunity to do better in the way that we work on affordable housing.”

Jenkins says kids will be the ones who will benefit the most.

A staggering 87 percent of Dallas ISD's students are socioeconomically disadvantaged.

"We could have better schools for the children,” said resident LaToiya Brown. “That's really what it's all about. Because the neighborhood is good.”     

The county's next step will be to find landlords in more diverse areas of the community who are willing to accept housing vouchers.

It will also look at creating affordable housing in mixed use developments, which could open up more school choices.