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Dallas Unveils Plan to Meet Fair Housing Obligations

Fair Housing

Dallas City Hall. (Photo by dcaloren via flickr)

Early next month, the Dallas city council is expected to vote on a new housing plan that aims to produce 20,000 homes for low- and moderate-income families over the next three years. The plan is intended not only to overcome a shortage of affordable housing in the city, but to chip away at patterns of racial and economic segregation that have developed in the city over the course of decades.

For Dallas, a new approach to housing has been a long time coming, officials say. In 2014, the city entered into a settlement agreement with the Department of Housing and Urban Development related to complaints that it had distributed federal housing money in ways that reinforced segregation, rather than working against it, as required by the Fair Housing Act. The following year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a case brought against the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs by a Dallas nonprofit group, that policies which create disparate outcomes in housing violate the Fair Housing Act, even if they aren’t driven by intentional discrimination.

“The idea of the Fair Housing Act is to give people access to more upwardly mobile communities,” says Raquel Favela, chief of economic development and neighborhood services for the city. “And that’s exactly what this plan seeks to do.”

The city’s new plan, which was unveiled in March, is the work of a new cohort of housing officials brought on by city manager T.C. Broadnax last year, including Favela. It’s based on a deep dive into the city’s housing data called a Market Value Analysis, as Next City previously reported.

The proposal recommends different types of investments in three target areas identified using the Market Value Analysis: Stabilization Areas, where the housing market is gaining strength and there’s a risk of displacement; Redevelopment Areas, where projects with potential to transform a market are already underway; and Emerging Market Areas, where there is a very weak housing market and problems with public safety and code enforcement. It calls for a mix of public and private investment to help fund 20,000 new homes over the next three years, with slightly more than half of the homes reserved for homeownership and the rest for rental. New affordable housing production would be focused in areas with stronger markets, through zoning for increased density and loans to fill financing gaps.

Map showing the Dallas housing plan target areas layered with the Market Value Analysis areas. (Credit: City of Dallas Department of Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization)

The plan seeks to build on market strengths by helping residents access homes built for market-rate tenancy, rather than subsidizing developers to build low-income housing in low-income areas. In the “emerging market” areas, the city would focus on strengthening neighborhood groups and investing in infrastructure and code enforcement. The idea is to make stronger markets more accessible for low-income residents, rather than providing low-income housing only in the most distressed areas.

“It doesn’t make sense for us to build housing in areas where those things are a big concern,” Favela says of the emerging market areas. “It really isn’t a housing choice if people feel like that’s the only option they have.”

But that aspect of the plan doesn’t sit right with some groups that have been involved in providing affordable housing in Dallas for decades. After the plan was released, representatives of the city’s Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDOs, pronounced “chodos”) complained that they were being left behind by the plan—and so were the parts of the city that were struggling the most.

Annie Evans, executive director of SouthFair Community Development Corporation, a CHDO that works in South Dallas, says groups like hers have been working to provide housing in areas where private developers won’t build for years. The CHDOs are committed to improving the city’s most-distressed areas, Evans says. And she questions the housing plan’s emphasis on areas of market strength.

“Why would you wait 3-5 years to address these type of areas when the need is now?” Evans says. “The CHDOs, we’re working in these areas now.”

Together, the CHDOs were seeking an investment of $50 million to support their low-income housing development work, according to a report in The Dallas Morning News. (Representatives of other CHDOs did not respond to requests for an interview.)

But the CHDOs have been too slow to produce housing, and haven’t shown the financial or organizational capacity to complete projects on a reliable timeline, Favela says. Their opposition to the plan wasn’t a surprise to her.

“The practices that have been in place in Dallas have been in place a long time,” says Favela. “And the only change that’s welcomed is the change that we create, so by virtue of this not being a change that they were initiating, I expected that they would not embrace it.”

Besides, the whole point of the housing plan is to produce affordable housing in a more integrated way than the city has in the past. It’s more effective for the city to do that by serving low-income residents in neighborhoods with stronger markets than it is to try to build mixed-income housing in areas with weak markets, Favela says. Nothing in the plan prevents the city’s CHDOs from continuing to work in their selected areas, but providing incentives to target low-income housing in low-income neighborhoods is the very practice that runs afoul of federal policy, she says.

“The plan is about providing housing choice and mobility, which is at the crux of the Fair Housing Act,” Favela says. “This is about providing mobility for low-to-moderate income families.”

Favela says she plans to present the plan to a city council committee again on May 2, incorporating public comments that her office has gathered over the last few weeks. The council is expected to vote on the plan on May 9. So far, Favela says she’s met one-on-one with all but two city councilmembers to discuss the housing plan. She expects the majority will support it.

Some councilmembers, like Tennell Atkins, who represents the 8th District in South Dallas, have been expressed doubt about approving the plan, at least in its current form, according to news reports. (Atkins’ office did not respond to requests for an interview.) But other councilmembers are openly supportive of the new approach.

“Our housing department and our housing policy has just been such a disaster,” says Lee Kleinman, the 11th District councilman who describes himself as a “fiscal conservative” on Twitter. “I just don’t think that anybody wants to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

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Looking back at the Best Real Estate Deals Awards in photos – Dallas Business Journal

Real Estate Deals Awards

Here’s your chance to relive some of the highlights from the Dallas Business Journal’s Best Real Estate Deals Awards.

The 26th annual event was hosted at The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas on April 11, and showcased the results from our judges’ picks for the top transactions and developments in North Texas for 2017.

Click through the attached gallery for a look at winners and other events from the evening’s awards celebration. If you’re interested in seeing even more photos from the event, check out dbjphotos.com.

For a full report on the winners and details around the finalists in each category, click here.

You can learn more about nominating for Dallas Business Journal awards programs by visiting this link.

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First Ever Dallas Housing Policy Faces Opposition

Housing Policy Opposition

After years of discussion, the new housing policy heading for approval by the City Council next month is attracting opposition from people who have been building affordable housing in Dallas for years, Thursday April 5, 2018.

Dallas has never had a housing policy for developers and non-profits seeking city support for their projects, according to City Council Members.

After years of discussion, the new housing policy heading for approval by the City Council next month is attracting opposition from people who have been building affordable housing in Dallas for years.

Sherman Roberts is President of City Wide Community Development Corporation, a non-profit focused on the South Lancaster Road area of Dallas.

“I’m doing the things that I thought you say that you want. And now we’re going to change again. And we’re going to do studies for the next 3 years,” Roberts said. “We’ve got tons and tons of studies that we have done and they all say the same thing.”

A mother allegedly shocked her teenage son with a stun gun when she tried to wake him up for Easter, according to Phoenix police. Sharron Dobbins, 40, said she only used the noise from the stun gun to try to wake her two sons.

(Published Thursday, April 5, 2018)

The proposed new policy uses circles to designate reinvestment areas where the city wants housing development to occur. Roberts’ area is outside the circles.

City Council Member Scott Griggs said the new policy is intended to make better use of limited city resources by directing private and non-profit projects to areas where they are most likely to succeed and hopefully attract more private investment in the future without city support.

“We’re going to pick particular areas to emphasize and prioritize for redevelopment. These areas are going to be adjacent to areas that have already seen large investment of private capital,” Griggs said.

In the new housing policy map, Red circles are Redevelopment Areas where projects are already slated to occur within a year. Green circles are Stabilization Areas with strong potential but also immediate risk of decline. Blue Emerging Market Areas require intense code and crime enforcement and other city services to support current planned improvements.

All of the background colors on the map are based on a Market Value Analysis of real estate in Dallas. City officials believe the MVA provides metrics on which to justify the housing policy.

“This is more community driven. We’re picking communities and areas of town to prioritize for investment. The old way of doing things is essentially the Bank of Dallas,” Griggs said.

An usher for the Houston Rockets <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/p/BhJ-DUChqh-/” target=”_blank”>busts a move on the team’s dance cam</a> at the Houston Toyota Center. (Video courtesy Houston Rockets)

In the old practice without a clear policy, Griggs said private and non-profit groups would approach the city for investments in a project based on how much money they were lacking from other sources to accomplish the goal. City staff would evaluate projects and City Council would approve them on more subjective standards.

“It’s going to be constantly updated. And we’ll do big strategic changes at 18 months and 3 years to see how the market is changing,” Griggs said.

Roberts said the new approach with studies required for areas outside the circles may reduce progress that was already underway in other areas that need more help, too.

City Wide CDC has built two large mixed use developments in the South Lancaster Road corridor that has been a Dallas Target neighborhood in the recent past. The projects have access to the adjacent DART rail line, near the Dallas Veterans Administration Medical Center. Roberts’ agency has vacant land ready for another mixed use development on Lancaster and a single family home subdivision in the neighborhood.

“We’re talking about major projects,” Roberts said. “We need a lot of infrastructure here so why not keep doing that and not say we’re going to study because we’ll be falling behind as we do that.”

Griggs said Community Development Corporations will not be cut out of the new policy.

“The product he does, he can move over to one of these circles and he’s still welcome to do business here in the City of Dallas,” Griggs said. “We have such limited resources. We cannot put our resources in every single block of the city of Dallas.”

The Dallas City Council Economic Development and Housing Committee held a special meeting on the new policy Thursday to hear comments from the public and from Community Development Housing Organizations.

Roberts spoke for CDHO’s along with Diane Ragsdale, a former City Council Member who now leads Innercity Community Development Corporation. Her CDHO is focused on areas near Dallas Fair Park that are also outside the new housing policy circles.

“People should not have to move to upper class neighborhoods to enjoy a decent standard of living,” Ragsdale said. “There is responsibility to the neighborhoods where you have a concentration of poor people.”

Committee members said the housing policy will not remove basic city services to all parts of Dallas but it will direct the use of additional resources that developers have been able to access in the past.

“We need a policy that’s going to be good for all of Dallas,” Committee Chairman Tennell Atkins said.

Ismail Aghdam, whose daughter Nasim Aghdam was identified as the shooter who attacked employees at YouTube’s headquarters before killing herself, spoke briefly to reporters outside his Southern California home.

Atkins said he hopes to have the full City Council approve the new housing policy in May, but future amendments may be added for technical details that are not yet completed.

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Monday Dallas Mavs Donuts: A Day Away And More Noel Arguments

Monday Dallas Mavs Donuts

DONUT 1: YOU DESERVE A BREAK TODAY

Monday Dallas Mavericks Donuts are about getting away from Mavs basketball for a moment.

Them. Not us.

“We just looked at the last 90 seconds (on video) with the team,” said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle immediately following Saturday’s late-game-breakdown loss to Dwight Howard, Kemba Walker and the Hornets. (Game coverage here). “This break, (Sunday) and Monday, is our last two-day break of the season so we’re going to be off … I want our guys to clear their heads and get rest. They’re going to look at the film of tonight’s end of game and just move on from there. We looked at the last 90 seconds. … In a season like this, where wins have been hard to come by and we’re out of the playoffs, these experiences are extremely valuable. Everyone learns from the end of the game. We had some mistakes and we had some really good plays.

“We’ve got to re-enforce the good and correct the stuff that needs correcting.”

But first? No practice Sunday. And originally, I thought Rick meant that there’d be no practice today. Instead, the fellas are back at it this morning.

End of non-basketball contemplation.

DONUT 2: CONTEMPLATING NOEL

Besides, what would our brains do while we got away? Think peaceful thoughts? Place ourselves in sweet environs? Dream of a day at the beach?

Nah.

They’ll worm their way right back to the Mavs. You know they will.

And they’ll consider the odd case of Nerlens Noel. You know they will.

In Noel’s last three games in which he’s been active, he’s played about 24 minutes per. Against Toronto, he was good for six rebounds, six points, three assists, five steals and three blocks. Against New Orleans, six rebounds, six points, two assists, two blocks and two steals. In battling Dwight on Saturday, he challenged Charlotte with a double-double – 12 rebounds, 10 points, two assists, four steals and a block.

Said Nerlens: “I’m ready to take care of business. The guys are playing well … Everything is looking good, everybody is finding everybody’s niche — even myself. I’m getting more familiar with everybody game after game, so I’m feeling good about it.”

What’s next for Noel?

“Just continuing the momentum, doing what I’m doing, just staying efficient, keeping everything simple,” he said. “I know my game and how I can affect it. I’m just going on top of that, changing the game in any way possible.”

There is a lot to unpack there.

Everything of course is not “looking good.” This has been a wasted season in many ways, including in ways that began when Noel declined Dallas’ July 1 contract offer of $17 mil a year, as we reported at the time. There is not much to “feel good about,” as Noel is about to move from his QO salary and into free agency, which certainly wasn’t anybody’s plan when he was acquired via trade from Philly 13 months ago to serve as Dallas’ “Tyson Chandler Starter Kit.”

And “I’m ready to take care of business”? Neither side has really done this very “efficiently” at all.

That Toronto game, in which Noel played well? The Mavs played the Nets the next night and Nerlens didn’t play at all. And the Pelicans game in which he played well? The Mavs played the Jazz two nights later and he didn’t play at all, again.

All of this has led to some outrageous theories; some writer from New York offers the drive-by opinions that Dallas “didn’t want to pay Noel” and uses the word “doghouse” in conjunction with Carlisle’s dealings with the player.

If you read DBcom, you know that Noel declined the $17-mil-a-year offer.

If you follow Carlisle’s Mavs with any intensity at all, you know that the word “doghouse” is never, ever used here.

I’ve written thousands and thousands of words on the Noel/Mavs disaster — and yes, it is that and likely will end up being that. It is therefore difficult to boil it down into a soundbite or a tweet or a single sentence. But, here goes:

“Nerlens Noel’s sincere definition of ‘hard work’ is different than the Mavs’ definition of it.”

That’s it. We’ve had a contract declined and a thumb operated on and a bunch of DNP-CD’s and a hot dog eaten during a game.

But that’s it.

“I’m just playing basketball and having fun if that means ‘showcase’ then that’s fine, but I think I’m going out there just doing what I love to do and having fun at the same time,” Nerlens said this weekend. “I’ll let the wings spread a little bit and I go out there and have fun and play the game.”

Yeah, this really hasn’t been “fun.” It’s been “odd.”

DONUT 3: THE COVER-UP AND THE CRIME

“Growing up,” writes our Steven Kilpatrick, “when I got caught doing something wrong, I was often told something along the lines of,”This will go easier for you if you’re honest about what you did. If I have to find out from someone else, the punishment will be worse.”

As The NBA Season – And The #Mavs Tanking – Winds Down: Is The Cover-Up Worse Than The Crime? https://t.co/ZBxfIRrEz3 pic.twitter.com/j0XO0JvH3p

— mike fisher ✭ (@fishsports) March 24, 2018

But in regard to the Mavs and NBA tanking … “the 76ers have a collection of some of the best young talent in the league thanks to their infamous-turned-famous ‘Trusting the Process.’ They didn’t call it “tanking,” but they were blatant about doing it, and they even found a way to make a cute, marketable slogan about it. They found a sneaky way to say “the F-word” in front of their parents.”

So, we wonder, again as it relates to the Mavs: “Is The Cover-Up Worse Than The Crime?”

DONUT 4: THE KEEPERS (OF MORE THAN THE FLAME)

The Dallas Mavericks being what they are — a 22-51 team — it’s understandable for us to wish to look ahead, to push the fast-forward button and to want it all to be about youth and promise.

But wait. Be kind. Rewind.

One Mavs’ loss last week was about milestones that recognize the past. And they were accomplished by two vets who we believe are still part of Dallas’ future. “Dirk and JJB as Keepers – Of More Than Just The Milestone Flame” here in DBcom Mavs Premium.

DONUT 5: POWELL PRAISE

The biggest “knock” I’ve ever personally heard on Dwight Powell really isn’t a “knock” at all: “He’s almost too conscientious,” a staffer told me a couple of years ago. Meaning? The guy actually takes it hard when he misses a shot in practice, and let’s him dwell on the “failure” for a tick too long.

Increasingly, though, the right amount of confidence can override the wrong amount of conscientiousness. A DBcom report on Dwight’s Development is coming up.

DONUT 6: THE CADDIE

We noted at the start of the season that while the “development stuff” this year needed to be mostly about Dennis Smith Jr., the development of his young caddie, Yogi Ferrell, could piggy-back right there with it.

Mission: Accomplished, we think. (Speaking of the aforementioned “confidence” …)

“He’s getting better all the time,” said Rick of Yogi. “His level of confidence gets higher and higher, but guys that work that hard are generally confident guys because they’ve put the work in. … He always does a good job battling guys like (Kemba) using his quickness and strength. I just see him continuing to improve.”

DONUT 7: BY THE NUMBERS

The Mavs’ record in clutch-time games (defined as the final five minutes and the game within five points) is … 10-35.

That’s your season, really.

DONUT 8: LEGENDS TO THE PLAYOFFS

The Mavs’ G-League affiliate, the Texas Legends, are playoff-bound for just the second time in franchise history, and for the first time since their inaugural season.

There are some wonderful storylines to follow here, as I have for the last half-decade working the telecasts. Those storylines are probably topped by Jameel Warney, who retains his Mavs connection as he and coach Bob MacKinnon lead the Legends into the postseason. It’s a one-game first-round meeting between the Legends and the Rio Grande Vipers (the Rockets affiliate) this week. For more info, go to the Legends website, here.

DONUT 9: TANKATHON

The Tankathon update is here, placing the 22-51 Mavs in the four slot as we enter the week. We’ve made clear our thoughts on the Mavs, and Ayton as the No. 1 overall pick. (Read here). But as was the case last year, you can drop from No. 1 and land Doncic, Porter, Carter, Bagley, Bamba.

I still can’t understand how people see this depth as a reason to not prefer the No. 1 slot over the No. 6 slot. But without question, the No. 6 slot (or somewhere in there) can be wildly productive for rebuilding Dallas.

Little wonder Dennis Smith Jr. tells us, “”Yeah, you can find a gem in the draft. I’m not sure where we’re going to be picking at, but you know, that’s not up to me. I believe that we’ll do a good job in the draft, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m looking forward to it.”

DONUT 10: QUOTABLE

“Yeah, I want to try to get into the playoffs, as soon as possible. So, that’s next year. Obviously, we’re not going to make it this year, no surprise. But next year I would definitely like to be in the playoffs.” – Dennis Smith Jr.

DONUT 11: JUNIOR Q-&-A

Those above quotes come from Quotable come from the brain of Junior and from the pen of DBcom’s Dalton Trigg,

Click here for the full Q-and-A with Dennis Smith Jr.

DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD

“I don’t want people thinking we don’t believe these women who come forward. We need to know these things and it will all fold into the plan. It’s sad that people went through this. And if people have something to say, tell it to us or the investigators or the newspaper. We absolutely are going to come out of this a better organization. But it will take some time.” – Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall.

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Donald Trump Jr. forms venture with Dallas money manager who raised millions for father’s campaign

AP

Donald Trump Jr. has a previously undisclosed business relationship with a Dallas businessman who helped raise millions of dollars for his father’s 2016 presidential campaign and has had special access to top government officials since the election, records obtained by The Associated Press show.

The president’s oldest son and hedge fund manager Gentry Beach have been involved in business deals together dating back to the mid-2000s and recently formed a company, Future Venture LLC, despite past claims by both men that they were just friends, according to previously unreported court records and other documents obtained by AP.

Beach last year met with top National Security Council officials to push a plan that would curb U.S. sanctions in Venezuela and open up business for U.S. companies in the oil-rich nation.

Ethics experts said their financial entanglements raised questions about whether Beach’s access to government officials and advocacy for policy changes were made possible by the president’s son’s influence — and could also benefit the Trump family’s bottom line.

“This feeds into the same concerns that we’ve had all along: The really fuzzy line between the presidency and the Trumps’ companies,” said Noah Bookbinder, who leads Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a public policy group. “Donald Trump Jr. sort of straddles that line all the time.”

Gentry Beach, left, a fundraiser for then President-elect Donald J. Trump, and his wife Kathryn visited the lobby of Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, January 17, 2017.

Last February, just as Trump Sr. was settling into office, Beach and an Iraqi-American businessman met with top officials at the National Security Council to present their plan for lightening U.S. sanctions in Venezuela in exchange for opening business opportunities for U.S. companies, according to a former U.S. official with direct knowledge of the proposal.

Career foreign policy experts were instructed to take the meetings, first reported last April by the website Mic.com, at the direction of the West Wing because Beach and the businessman were friends of Trump Jr., the official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive government work, said that inside the NSC lawyers raised red flags about the appropriateness of the meeting.

The U.S. didn’t act on the pitch, which would have gone against the president’s hard-line stance on the South American nation and its president, Nicolas Maduro.

Seven months after the Venezuela meetings, Beach attended a private lunch in Dallas between Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Republican donors, including businessmen with petroleum interests, according to a copy of Zinke’s schedule.

The Interior Department didn’t respond to a request for comment about the meetings. A White House official said Trump Jr. didn’t arrange Beach’s visit to the NSC and his proposal was dismissed.

In a statement, the Trump Organization said Trump Jr. has never played a role arranging meetings “with anyone at the White House or any other government agency.”

Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s general counsel, acknowledged that Trump Jr. had invested with Beach in the past, but referred AP to a statement released by the company in April, which said their relationship was “strictly personal.”

In a statement provided by a friend, Beach said it was “absolutely not true” that he’d ever “used my longtime personal friendship with Donald Trump Jr.” to influence government decision making.

According to his friends, Beach, who has known Trump Jr. since they attended the University of Pennsylvania together in the late 1990s, developed his own relationships during the campaign and inauguration and doesn’t need Trump Jr. to broker introductions.

Beach was an avid fundraiser and campaigner for President Trump, particularly in Texas, where Trump Jr. told donors last March that Beach and another longtime hunting pal, Tom Hicks Jr., raised millions for his father’s campaign, The Dallas Morning News reported.

After the election, Beach served as a finance vice chairman for the inaugural committee and faced scrutiny after a nonprofit he started at the time advertised hunting and fishing trips with Trump Jr. and his brother, Eric, to million-dollar donors.

Last October, Beach incorporated a business called Future Venture LLC in Delaware without listing any Trump connection, signing himself as the entity’s agent.

But a disclosure report filed with New York City officials and obtained by AP via a public records request shows Trump Jr. is named as the president, secretary and treasurer of the company.

The purpose of the limited liability company could not be determined from the filings. The Trump Organization said it was set up to pursue technology investments.

Previously unreported court documents show that the two men, each a godfather to one of the other’s sons, did business together well before they formed Future Venture.

In a 2010 deposition, Trump Jr. testified that he had twice made investments in ventures that Beach had an interest in: $200,000 in a dry Texas oil well managed by Beach’s father and an undisclosed amount in a failed mining stock affiliated with Beach’s uncle.

In August 2008, while the two men were golfing together in New York, Beach suggested Trump Jr. sell his shares in the tanking stock “if you need the tax loss,” according to a copy of his testimony filed in a long running civil lawsuit between Beach and a former employer, hedge funder Paul Touradji.

In 2005, Gentry Beach (right) helped his friend Donald Trump, Jr. prepare for Trump’s wedding ceremony at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Beach’s father, Gary Beach, was convicted last month of federal bankruptcy fraud after a seven-day trial in Dallas.

Trump Jr. testified that he had other business discussions with Beach — but not all of them came to fruition, including a plan to buy a hunting preserve in Mexico with Beach.

Trump Jr. also referred Beach to someone he knew from Saudi Arabia when Beach was working on a potential oil purchase and invested $50,000 along with his sister Ivanka in an Argentine resort developed by one of Beach’s friends, he testified.

Trump Jr. estimated he exchanged roughly 500 emails with Beach at the time of his 2010 deposition.

Pressed for details about the oil well deal in his deposition, Trump Jr. indicated he wasn’t well versed in the oil-and-gas business.

“You know, I put some money with a friend,” he testified.

Jake Pearson, The Associated Press

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How a Pastor With an $825k Housing Fund Built a Nightmare For Dallas Homeowners

City of Dallas employee Carl Wagner, left, is a longtime friend and business associate of home builder Kenneth Williams, right. (Facebook)

Under a program to rebuild houses for people with low-income, the city of Dallas awarded $825,000 in federal funds to Kenneth Williams, a Fort Worth pastor and home-builder, in 2015. But the homeowners, which included mostly older and disabled residents, now say they have been victimized with houses that have leaks, lack rain gutters, and a host of other problems. The program, originally created to provide a better quality of life with housing for these residents, has been shelved.

According to The Dallas Morning News, a simple background check would have revealed that Williams misstated his financial history on his application and had been barred from doing similar work in Fort Worth.

The story of how Williams, the senior pastor at New Spirit of Prayer church in Fort Worth, came to work for the city is emblematic of problems that have dogged the Dallas housing department. Officials there have a history of being sloppy with federal money and failing to vet whom they do business with, even though providing housing that’s affordable for poor and working-class families is one of Dallas’ most pressing needs.

Connections May Have Played a Role

According to the Morning News, Williams may have been awarded the funds through the help of his childhood friend, Carl Wagner, a city of Dallas employee.

Public records show that in the late 1980s, the men were involved in a Fort Worth real estate deal and opened a Christian ministry, according to the Morning News. The paper also states that the pair later worked together at Williams’ construction company, according to Wagner’s resumé.

According to the paper, the two are reported to be best friends with Williams ex-wife, Denice Williams, stating, “Carl knows everything about Kenneth and Kenneth knows everything about Carl. They’re best friends.”

A Troubled Housing History

By the 1990s, Williams was struggling financially, but after Wagner landed a job in the city of Fort Worth’s housing department in 2000, Williams suddenly found steady work and funds for his housing program. Williams said he got the jobs on his own, with no help from Wagner.

By 2015, Williams had founded a new construction company. Coincidentally, Wagner started working for the city of Dallas, helping to manage a program to demolish and rebuild rundown homes. Williams submitted an application to the city on which he listed work on an in-law’s house as a reference. The application also omitted his seven previous bankruptcies. The Dallas Morning News also reports that Williams had paid Wagner for training on how to safely work with lead paint. Despite these issues, the city of Dallas listed Williams’ company the city offered Williams as one of a handful to families that qualified for the house-rebuilding program. Eight families chose him to rebuild their homes, some reporting they did so because Williams was a pastor.

Victims Are Living In A Nightmare

For those families, the decision to choose Williams’ company has proven to be a mistake. Take Jimmy Isbell, 75, and his wife Deborah Isbell, 58. Jimmy says, “The house is brand new, but water leaks through a wall, soaking the bedroom carpet. Rain gutters are missing along the edges of the roof. A blank spot in the bathroom marks where a walk-in shower was supposed to be.”

At age 75, he is afraid he’ll hurt himself stepping in and out of the bathtub. He and his wife have had to sleep on a mattress in the living room. “I’ve actually called this a demon house,” he said.

Other clients report lights that flicker when the vacuum is turned on, non-flushing toilets and gaps in the foundation. In order to get new houses, the families had to agree to live in them for 20 years. Some fear the houses won’t last that long.

Explanations and Excuses

The Dallas Morning News reports that Wagner has not yet responded to their requests for comment.Williams, however, responded by acknowledging what he says was an error in judgment, telling the paper that he fell deep into debt trying to finish the houses and help people in need. “I let my heart overrule better judgment,” he said, adding “I was trying to help these old people and it was going sour for me.”

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For homeless to coexist in a booming downtown Dallas, new Stewpot chief must be a ‘connector’

Abandoned Buildings on Flipboard

Brenda Snitzer just might have the right kind of background to fix the clash between homeless service providers and downtown Dallas’ booming population.

Brenda Snitzer, executive director of The Stewpot

The new executive director of The Stewpot — which serves 15,000 homeless and at-risk people every year — started her career as a probation officer.

After that, she worked at a psychiatric hospital, her church and several Dallas nonprofits. She doesn’t list all the names.

“I’m trying to avoid saying I’ve had a lot of jobs,” she jokes.

But she says her varied experience is her strength.

“I’m a connector,” she says.

She’ll need connections to handle the complaints lobbed at The Stewpot and other downtown service providers for homeless people.

About 130,000 people work downtown, and around 11,000 people live in the central business district. And that number is growing.

The southeast side of downtown Dallas was once peppered with abandoned buildings. Many of the residents there lived not in expensive lofts but on cardboard pallets outside.

The development around the Dallas Farmers Market — a hip area with a lot of pedestrian traffic — has put new residents in close proximity to homeless people camping or sleeping on sidewalks.

People often mill around The Stewpot off Young Street at Park Avenue. Downtown cleanup crews spend hours every morning picking up trash in the area from there to the Bridge Homeless Recovery Center and an Interstate 30 overpass where people are known to camp out.

Kourtny Garrett, CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc., said the streets around The Stewpot have “been one of our most challenging areas of downtown.”

“We’re still at a transition in that neighborhood from one that didn’t have as much activity to one that does,” she said.

The Farmers Market resident said she is optimistic that Snitzer can work with the neighborhood to solve the problems.

Brenda Snitzer walks the halls at The Stewpot offices that features work from the agency’s art program.

Snitzer says she is meeting with business owners and neighborhood groups to hear their concerns but says the solution has to be more than moving homeless services away from the city’s center.

“Do we want economic development in our city? Yes, we do,” she said. “But we can’t just keep moving the problem around.”

In December, the Dallas City Council passed a nuisance abatement ordinance that allows police to shame properties where “habitual criminal activity” occurs by posting a sign outside.

It’s an ordinance that targets organizations serving homeless people, according to Snitzer’s predecessor, Bruce Buchanan, who retired after 30 years there.

Snitzer replaced Buchanan last month.

“There are things we need to work on with the city and the city needs to do in their role caring for the citizens in Dallas,” Snitzer said.

Also on that to-do list: panhandling and K2, a cheap synthetic marijuana.

Many homeless people battle drug addiction, especially to K2, a problem that has overwhelmed Dallas police and private security officers downtown.

Aggressive panhandlers have harassed people going to work or heading home downtown. Dallas police have tried cracking down on the panhandling and K2 problems, with little effect.

The K2 problem has plagued downtown the past two years. Last year, downtown safety patrol officers responded to 6,000 K2 calls, said Martin Cramer, vice president of public safety for Downtown Dallas Inc.

“That kind of volume would overwhelm the Dallas Police Department,” Cramer said.

Nonprofits like The Stewpot are trying to offer help to the Dallas homeless population to fix these problems, but such groups are also blamed for drawing homeless people closer to the city’s hub.

It’s a “chicken vs. the egg” issue. Which came first? The homeless people or the nonprofits trying to help them?

Ultimately, none of that matters to Snitzer. She just wants to fix the problem, not point fingers.

“The Stewpot since the ’70s has been trying to help people in these communities where nobody else was helping them,” Snitzer said.

Part of fixing the problem comes down to knowing how to work in concert with other nonprofits.

At the start of her career, while working as a probation officer, Snitzer was frustrated there was no database or list of the social services available in Dallas. She often didn’t know where to send the people she was trying to help.

Those services are still fragmented, and newly homeless or at-risk people often turn to The Stewpot to figure out what to do.

This week a man told her, “I’m newly homeless. I don’t know how to navigate a lot of this stuff.”

Snitzer now knows which nonprofits do what in Dallas and has even worked at several of them, including Our Friends Place, Girls Inc. and Big Thought.

She hopes to bring those groups together.

No matter how experienced Snitzer is, there’s little to prepare someone for balancing working with the city and people who want homeless people out of sight, said Wayne Walker, executive director of OurCalling, a homeless outreach center.

“The politics involved is ugly,” Walker said.

Unsheltered homelessness is expected to increase again this year, at a time when affordable housing is limited. OurCalling sees 250 new unsheltered people each month.

“The need far exceeds our available resources every day,” Walker said. “Think about the unsheltered — where can they go for any services? … The Stewpot has filled in a really unique gap.”

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Dallas apartment construction boom could spur rent relief, expert says

Rent prices are dropping

There is no apartment shortage in Dallas. Rendering courtesy of Greystar

Some price relief appears to be on the way for renters in Dallas-Fort Worth. An explosion of new apartments in the area should help drive down increases in rental rates, according to a real estate analyst.

As of February 21, there were 37,547 apartment units under construction throughout the region, says David Kahn, senior market analyst in DFW for CoStar Group, the parent company of Apartments.com. Among U.S. metro areas, Dallas-Fort Worth ranks second, behind New York City, for the number of apartment units currently being built, Apartments.com data shows.

Not only will the surge in apartment construction mean more choices and more amenities for area renters, but it also will bring some downward pressure on rental rates, according to Kahn. That’s thanks to the stepped-up competition that existing apartments will be facing from new apartments.

Already, growth in DFW rental rates has slowed from about 6 percent in 2015 to 4 percent in 2016, and just under 3 percent in 2017, Kahn says. He expects growth in rental rates to continue declining, especially since a number of local apartment projects in the pipeline haven’t even broken ground yet.

“I wouldn’t say there is an apartment shortage in DFW,” Kahn says. “But in terms of overall housing, since we are building single-family homes at a much lower rate than we have previously and single-family home prices are rising faster than multifamily rents, that pushes many people that would normally buy homes into the renter pool, at least temporarily.”

The demand for more apartments in Dallas-Fort Worth has been driven in large part by the addition of more than 100,000 jobs in the region since 2013, Kahn says. The number of apartment units under construction now in the area represents about 5.5 percent of the existing supply, which Kahn says isn’t an abnormally high percentage.

Kahn says the sections of DFW seeing the most apartment construction include Uptown, Knox-Henderson, East Dallas, West Dallas/Design District, and Northwest Dallas/Medical District, along with Allen, Frisco, McKinney, Plano, and the Addison/Carrollton/Farmers Branch tollway corridor.

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Catching up With Dallas Players at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Dallas Cowboys

Harrison played soccer as a kid. But he can still swing a stick.

Dallas was well represented at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am this past weekend, and not just by defending champ Jordan Spieth and longtime sponsor AT&T. The popular four-day tournament, which matches up PGA Tour professionals with celebrity amateurs, is played on three courses on the Monterey Peninsula in California: Spyglass Hill Golf Course, Monterey Peninsula Country Club Shore Course, and, the prime jewel, Pebble Beach Golf Links, the No. 1 ranked public course in the United States.

Snagging invites this year were 13 amateurs from Dallas, including business execs Doug Parker of American Airlines, Rich Templeton of Texas Instruments, and Bob Rowling of TRT Holdings. Also in the field were Chris Harrison (Lake Highlands High School grad and host of The Bachelor) and Tony Romo, who next month will make his PGA Tour debut at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic.

Spieth, who on Saturday was nearly nailed in the head by an errant bunker shot by actor Ray Romano, was paired with country music singer Jake Owen, along with Dustin Johnson and hockey great Wayne Gretzky. He ended up shooting an unremarkable -8 to tie for 20th. Spieth’s fiancée, Annie Verret, was in Pebble Beach to cheer him on. They plan to marry “around the fall,” she told me, and it will be a small, friends-and-family affair. “I don’t want to be introduced to someone at our wedding,” she said.

Jordan Spieth contemplates either his tee shot or his impending nuptials.

I caught up with Tom Dundon as he walked up to the eighth tee box on Saturday, right after he had played Pebble Beach’s No. 7, one of the most iconic holes in golf. The Dallas billionaire has played the Pro-Am 13 or 14 times, he said, and always with good friend Hunter Mahan. Dundon has been busy lately with his new NHL team, the Carolina Hurricanes, and his Trinity Forest Golf Club, which will host the AT&T Byron Nelson tournament in May. “AT&T wanted a world-class course for the tournament, and we gave it to them,” he said.

Tom Dundon owns a hockey team.

Rounding out the Dundon-Mahan foursome were Romo and Will Zalatoris. “I play a lot with them at home [in Dallas],” Romo said. “Tom is a close friend, and I always enjoy being around him and Hunter.” The former QB thinks people will be impressed when the Nelson makes its Trinity Forest debut. “They’ve put together a great field, and I think it’s going to be a great tournament,” he said. “The course is fantastic.”

Look at those dimples!

Fin Ewing III, whose Plano-based Ewing Automotive Group sponsors PGA Tour player Cody Gribble, first played the Pebble Beach Pro-Am back in the 1990s, when he was paired with Justin Leonard as a fill-in for his ill father. After bringing The Carmel Cup (a college tournament with teams from the SEC and Big 12) to Pebble Beach in 2011, he earned his own invite and has played every year since. The Ewing family has owned a home in Pebble Beach since 1985. “We like to go to the aquarium and to the beach with the dogs,” Ewing said. “It’s just so beautiful out here. My dad used to say, ‘God spends more time out here than he does in Midland-Odessa.’ And that’s the truth.”

By Sunday, Harrison was the only Dallas amateur to have made the cut. We spoke after his final round, and he was still giddy. “To be here your first year and make the cut — it’s like making the Super Bowl your rookie year of playing football,” he said. “I think it has a lot to do with the pony I was riding this week; Jason Day was pretty phenomenal for a partner. But I did my part, and hopefully I represented Big D well.”

Despite his love for the game, Harrison didn’t play much golf when he was young. “I grew up in the shadows of Royal Oaks, but they didn’t let me in the gates there,” he said. “I was over at Moss Park playing soccer. I went to school with Justin Leonard and some other guys. They took a left and went to Royal Oaks; I took a right and went over to Moss Park to play soccer, and that’s where I spent my Saturdays.”

November through March, while The Bachelor is on the air, is his “golf season,” said Harrison, who loved to watch the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on TV as a child. “It seemed like this magical Shangri-La, watching Bing Crosby and Bob Hope and Clint Eastwood and the biggest stars in golf play here. I thought as a kid, ‘Man, if I could ever be there …’ So, to actually play in the tournament and to make the cut is one of those pinch-me moments. It doesn’t seem real.”

Harrison ended up tied for 10th among amateurs. The winner was Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who teamed with Kevin Streelman to finish with a score of 41-under par, including a 12-under for their final round. Among the pros, under-the-radar Ted Potter Jr. bested the world’s No. 1 ranked Dustin Johnson by three strokes to win.

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Fort Worth-based Crescent Real Estate, Platinum Homes ready final phase of residences at The Ritz-Carlton in Uptown Dallas – Dallas Business Journal

Dallas Business News

Dallas-based Crescent Real Estate Equities LLC and luxury home builder Platinum Homes recently formed a partnership to complete the final phase of Regency Row at The Tower Residences at The Ritz-Carlton Dallas.

Construction on the Robert A.M. Stern-designed brownstone-inspired homes is slated to begin this spring.

Platinum Homes, led by CEO Mark Molthan, was selected to complete Crescent’s vision for Regency Row based off the firm’s design aesthetic, attention to detail and talent in creating custom-tailored homes, said Crescent Real Estate Chairman John Goff.

Goff added it was an easy decision to have Platinum Homes complete the remaining Regency Row homes, which range in size from 5,300 square feet to 6,300 square feet.

Each of the homes facing Olive Street at Cedar Springs Road have private garages, fully-landscaped courtyard entrances and personal elevators from the garages to a rooftop terrace.

The builder, which has been working in the Park Cities for nearly two decades, will oversee the interior construction of the remaining homes. Laura Kirar and Allen Kirsch are the interior designers on the town homes.

One of the homes will feature a translucent wine cellar to give off a warm glow of light in the first three levels of the home. Another house has a floating stairwell.

Molthan said the residences give would-be buyers the ability to create a dream house in a prominent neighborhood with little available supply.

Crescent Real Estate recently completed a $33 million renovation to The Crescent, a mixed-use development in Uptown. Crescent and its affiliates are also nearing completion on a $30 million renovation to Hotel Crescent Court.

Goff said these amenities will help support the ultra-luxury brownstone residences upon completion.

“The bottom line is that the value of Regency Row is now fully realized,” he said, adding buyers will be able to take advantage of the neighborhood and all the amenities located between Crescent Court and The Ritz-Carlton, including the McKinney & Olive tower.

Kyle Crews of Dallas-based Allie Beth Allman & Associates is the listing agent for The Tower Residences and Regency Row. The new homes could be priced from $5.5 million to $6.5 million upon completion.

Construction on the homes is slated for completion by this fall.

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