Earlier this month, the city of Dallas formally made public its plans for Dream Dallas, its five-year initiative to revitalize five neighborhoods that includes providing housing for 1,000 families.
Habitat for Humanity’s chapter in Dallas is managing the project, which will include a mixture of new construction and rehabbing existing homes on lots in a ramshackle part of the city through the builder’s "A Brush With Kindness" remodeling program.
The goal is to raise $100 million for this project by 2014. Melissa d’Leon, vice president of development at Dallas Area Habitat, tells Builder that $30 million of that total is being raised by the Dream Dallas Advisory Council, which so far has captured between $5 million and $6 million, says Michael Gruber, a local attorney who is the council’s chairman.
Gruber adds that the council commissioned an economic impact survey, conducted by Southern Methodist University, as a means of "getting businesses to follow the housing." That study claims that for every dollar Habitat spends locally, it generates $3.18 in new economic activity.
The council also recruited the Dallas Bar Association to untangle any legal issues relating to bringing lots back into use. (The areas of the city the project focuses on reportedly have long been plagued by abandoned and vandalized properties, some of which have become havens for drug dealers.)
"The council helps open doors for us," says d’Leon, who adds that Habitat is buying the land for this project.
Another $34 million comes from the federal government’s Neighborhood Stabilization Programs I and II. Gruber notes that much of this money isn’t coming directly from Washington but from other municipalities in those programs "who think what we’re doing is a good thing."
Dallas Area Habitat will raise $10 million from revenue it generates from its ReStores (venues at which it sells new and used home decorating and improvement products) and mortgage fees. And it will also contribute between $4 million and $5 million per year from other fees it collects.
As of early November, nearly $50 million had been donated to Dream Dallas, and another $22 million had been secured, according to the Dallas Observer.
Habitat actually launched this project in 2010, but only recently got to the point "where we could announce the program," says Andrea Anderson, Dallas Area Habitat’s director of marketing and communications. Gruber elaborates that it took a year to nail down where the money would come from and to "educate people about what we’re doing. You gotta’ make friends before you need them."
Anderson was unable to provide Builder with the number of homes that Habitat has already built or rehabbed under this project, although Gruber says that it’s his understanding that 100 more homes will be built in 2011 than last year.
The Dallas Morning News reports that Habitat will build a total of 750 homes under this project, with the rest being rehabs. The project is expected to add $67 million to the property tax base. The newspaper provides community-specific details when it reports that Habitat will build 75 new homes and refurbish 20 in West Dallas; build 105 new homes and rehab 20 in South Dallas/Fair Park; build 105 new homes and refurbish 20 in Bonton, Texas; build 75 new homes and 20 rehabs in Joppa, Texas; and build 105 new homes and 20 refurbished houses in the Lancaster/Cedar Creek Transportation Corridor.
New houses range in size from 1,186 square feet to 1,522 square feet. The houses will sell for between $80,000 and $105,000, says Anderson.
Before Dream Dallas, Dallas Area Habitat had spent $95 million on construction and remodeling in this market over a 25-year period. But the magnitude of the Dream Dallas project shouldn’t present a challenge for Habitat finding volunteers to build and remodel this many homes, says Anderson. "We have lots of volunteers, and this project actually creates new opportunities for them."
John Caulfield is senior editor for Builder magazine.