Bob Voelker is a real estate attorney and D Real Estate Daily contributor. Today on his own DFWREimagined blog, he writes about divisions within Dallas, how jobs went north while the most affordable housing went south:
In a simplistic overview, we have created a spatial divide, a segregation if you will, between housing and jobs, between opportunity and disinvestment, and between races, that are at the historical heart of each of these issues. Driven by market and social pressures of the 1950’s-1970’s – the double whammy of integration/court ordered busing creating white flight to the suburbs, occurring at the same time as new highways facilitated rapid movement from the suburbs to the jobs in the City (and subsequent flight of jobs to the suburbs, following white collar employees) – combined to start the process of separating jobs to the north and affordable housing to the south. This trend was exacerbated and reinforced by zoning codes prohibiting or drastically limiting apartments, the primary form of affordable housing, in many of the suburbs, and by local not-in-my-backyard efforts and state political/administrative decisions accepting those attitudes that made certain that placing affordable housing in the northern suburbs was difficult at best, and impossible in many areas.
Lack of jobs and new development in the southern section leads to more disinvestment, a lower tax base and poorer quality schools. The great north-south divide creates a dysfunctional City Council that has trouble finding common ground on what is best for the City, as the “City” is really two cities, as we often refer to them – North Dallas and South Dallas. Starting earlier, but reaching critical speed in the 1960’s with public housing, and continuing in the late 80’s through the early 2000’s, were benign if not malignant actions – using federal funding (public housing money, low income housing tax credits and Community Development Block grants, to name a few) to congregate affordable housing south of the Trinity. Put the service sector housing in one part of the City, and move the jobs to the other side, and you get a north-south divide, a north-south debate, and traffic infrastructure (highways) to bridge the gap.
He praises the Grow South initiative, Large Marge, Klyde Warren, and the proposed teardown of Interstate 345 as important steps towards facing up to, and fixing, the problems we’ve created.