Housing affordability organization Dallas City Homes under new leadership – Dallas Business Journal – Dallas Business Journal

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Real estate veteran Jason Brown has recently taken the helm as president of Dallas City Homes, an organization launched in 1989 with the aim of transforming dis-invested neighborhoods and preserving housing affordability.
In the past 32 years, Dallas City Homes has developed or preserved the affordability of more than 2,400 apartments and participated in the construction, renovation or development of more than 350 homes for sales.
Much of that accomplishment has been under the leadership of Karen Brooks-Crosby for the past 20 years. As Dallas City Homes president, she has been only the second to hold that position.
Brown has been a member of the DCH board of directors for the past four years and most recently served as treasurer.
In addition to his involvement with that organization, Brown served as managing partner at commercial real estate services company aTenantCo and specialized in working with public and privately held real estate investments trusts, developers, non-profit organizations, municipalities and high net worth individuals.
Brown discusses his plans for Dallas City Homes and projects underway in the following interview:
What are some of your goals as the new president of Dallas City Homes?
The main thing I want to focus on is I want to create energy within the organization, re-engage it, reunite it, engage talent and own our results. What I would like to do on the business development side is let the rest of the region know that we exist, here’s the things that we’ve done, here’s the things that we’re doing, here’s the things that we’d like to do. So, bringing awareness of the organization.
The other aspect is, we have three pretty nice size projects in the pipeline that will be good for our city. I want to bring those projects vertical.
What are those projects?
We have one in West Dallas that’s in permitting right now. We have another in Bishop Arts that we have a (letter of intent) out right now for the dirt. We have another project in Pleasant Grove that we’re working to put the community partners together on and reimagining what the site could look like.
Are these single-family home projects or multifamily?
For the last eight to 10 years we’ve kind of gotten away from single-family homes and started focusing on multifamily. We’ve been putting a lot of focus on the active senior market. We’re thinking about this aging senior population that wants to remain in their neighborhoods. Where is the opportunity for them to remain in their neighborhoods if they have a fixed income? You start looking around and you don’t see these in these areas. We’re an Oak Cliff based organization. North Oak Cliff is our focus, and over the years, it’s gotten extremely expensive. We started looking at what are the areas that are being impacted by gentrification and where they have a large senior population that deserves to sustain their quality of life. 
How do you fit into the North Texas affordable housing framework?
The affordable housing situation in North Texas is only getting worse. I really don’t like that word because it has such a negative connotation. People think it’s low income. Where we are now, they label it ‘workforce.’ We amended out bylaws a few years ago to be able to encompass low-income and moderate-income. Whatever city you’re working in, you deserve in my opinion to be able to live in that city that you work in and have a quality of life. 
Tell me more about your West Dallas project.
It’s situated at Singleton and Skillman. That’s historically a Hispanic neighborhood and it’s suffering a lot of gentrification. This is the neighborhood that’s closest to Trinity Groves. They’ve been doing a lot of things over the years. We saw a huge demand for this project in the area. It’s a smaller project. We wish we could do more, but there’s a neighborhood stabilization overlay that restricts a lot of the use. We’re only going to be able to do 15 units and a 5,000-square-foot community center. We’re going to reserve 30 percent of the units for low-income seniors.
What’s the overview of your Pleasant Grove project? 
It’s on Buckner (Boulevard). It’s a 6-acre tract that we’re proposing doing an active-senior type project there.  We’re working to do a lot of things on that. We have control of the land, but our biggest issue with that project since it’s such a large project is environmental issues that we have to clean up and the sourcing of the financing there. We’ve been going back and forth with the neighborhood stakeholders on what they want and what is feasible. We’re still early in the design phases, but we do have a site plan laid out and we’re going to be re-engaging the neighbors soon on that.
How many units is that one?
157ish.
How about the third project?
The third one is going to be right here in Bishop Arts. It’s going to be on the moderate income side. We’re looking at acquiring a small parcel and building probably a mixed-use development. We haven’t figured out the commercial use down below but it is going to be eight units that we add to the market for the moderate income.
What change are you trying to navigate right now with Dallas City Homes?
The awareness aspect. We’ve been operating in such a silo for the last several years. We have a very successful track record of delivering results and delivering high-quality projects, so the foundation has been laid and I’m just going to build beyond that. 
On the policy front, at the city level, what changes is your organization advocating?
One is gentrification displacement and who’s really impacted by it. How do we mitigate that? So, things like stabilization overlays for existing residents where you have some type of protection over the gradual tax increases. 
Is the aging housing stock an issue in Dallas right now?
It is. One of the things that I personally deal with is, how do you pay for it? That’s the hardest part. As a general consumer, it’s, ‘How do I access capital to help me update my house?’ ‘Where are the construction experts who can help me update my house?’ The other aspect is, you have people who want to be in the city, and I can personally attest to this, but they simply don’t want to be in a 30-year-old house. It’s slim pickings of stuff that’s been renovated that looks cool. 
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