Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Consider a Move to Inner City Dallas--We'll Make It Easier for You!

Inner city neighborhoods face so many challenges in part because of their economic demographics.

Racial segregation, still a big problem in our nation, is now joined by economic or class segregation as a big contributor to decline in urban communities.

Paul Jargowski, Professor at University of Texas at Dallas, maintains in his important book, Poverty and Place, that when 40% or more of a neighborhood's population is poor by federal standards, that neighborhood will not work for its residents.

Thus, one of our primary challenges in depressed neighborhoods is to see that the "poverty percentage" stays well below this deadly marker. Communities that enjoy mixed use, mixed incomes and mixed housing stock tend to work in a way that promotes healing and hope.

For several years now--about five to be exact--we have been working hard to create such a community of hope in inner city East Dallas. Later this month we will break ground on our long-awaited development. "Eastside Commons" will include 237 units of high-quality rental housing built in attractive new urban dimensions. Fifty-five of the units will be set aside as public housing and the remainder will be market rate, but below comparable rents in the downtown area. The public and market units will be indistinguishable from one another. Only the residents will determine which is which.

In addition, the new community will include 45,000 plus square feet of retail space along the historic Hall Street corridor on the east side of Central Expressway in walking distance of downtown.

Across the street sits the Roseland Towne Homes community, a completely rebuilt public housing development where we have been very active since 1996. CDM recently assumed responsibility for managing the new community life center located in the middle of the development.

Here's what we need: urban pioneers who will move to our new development because they care about people, poor people who are reaching for a better life. We need men and women, young and older who will move our way intentionally to assist us in building a strong, well-connected urban community where low-income families can live next door to middle class families.

Mixed developments like we are about to build have worked in other cities. We feel that our efforts will pay off here in Dallas.

I've attached images above of what we will build.

I can provide you many more details, if you are interested.

Let me hear from you!


IBreakCellPhones said...

This is the hard part. As a parent of four, all of them under 10 years old, I don't want to take chances with their safety if I don't have to.

You have commented that you have heard gunshots several times from your house, Larry. I'm sure it was a hard decision for you to make to move to where you live now. Would you have been able to make the same decision in the same way if you still had your children living with you? Would that have affected your decision or your thinking process?

Charles said...


I've never liked Dallas. Some good people, and otherwise it's always seemed to be teeming with yuppie excess. But if I were free to move there, I think I would. Are there any plans for future communities with ownership rather than renting?


Dallasfan said...

Bite your tongue Charles. Dallas is the home to the greatest football team ever:) Any chance of getting tickets thrown in as inticement? Just a thought. Seriously, though, I would be hard pressed to put my kids in a unsafe environment when I didn't have to. This is a struggle of mine. That is to say, that I struggle with am I trusting God to see me through safely or has he given me a brain and the monitary ability to not put my family in certain situations. I don't. I do know at this point in my life, I am not able to move to Dallas. I would be open to doing so in the future. But I would have to have some way of getting to a game or two.

Larry James said...

Thanks, friends for the feedback.

I understand your concerns.

Had my children been younger and not in college, I am sure my thinking would have been different.

There are plans for ownership projects just ahead with us. Hang on. Dallas does have what you describe, Charles as a basic issue, but there is more here.

We could get you to a game or two, DallasFan!

Having said all of this, the neighborhood is not that dangerous, really. I think you would like what you would see in about 18 months.

IBreakCellPhones said...

Larry, I want you to know that I am in no way calling you any sort of a hypocrite for waiting until you didn't have your kids living with you before moving. You're right in that it is a valid consideration, both for reasons of safety and other reasons, such as the school system.

Charles said...

I know there's more - there's just never been enough more to make me think about moving there. Do you know of any programs like this in Austin? Can't leave until the wife's got her degree in 3+ years.


Larry James said...

Yes, there are a number of community development efforts underway in East Austin.

Janet said...

ibreakcellphones and dallasfan~
I live near Larry, though probably in a somewhat "rougher" neighborhood by the statistics and poverty level. I have lived as a single white female there for the last 10 years. Most people shudder or make fun of where I live. When my car was broken into everyone assumed it was at my apartment complex. It wasn't. It was broken into in North Dallas (read wealthier, "safer" area). Granted, I have had things stolen from me--nothing that couldn't be replaced. Despite some of the negative influences in the neighborhood, I have neighbors who have edged my yard when I didn't have a weed eater, neighbors who have left potted plants as a welcome gift on my porch, other neighbors who brought potted mums from the local green house when they knew someone stole the ones off my front porch, and most recently neighbors who offered to help me hang my Christmas lights and helped me admire both of our houses. Yes, I do agree that there are "risks." But I think the "risks" are our excuses for fear. I have met wonderful people throughout my neighborhood over the years. Even the "shady" characters are really nice people...just doing questionable things. I think if I would've moved into the neighborhood but remained separate from my neighbors worse things could have happened. I also wouldn't have found the wonderful people I now know. It's all in perspective.

Anonymous said...


Sorry I'm a few days behind and off-topic, but ... it sounds like you had a worthwhile and emotional trip to New Orleans. You're definitely right that it looks like a war zone.

It was great meeting you.

Bobby Ross
The Christian Chronicle

Stephen Jones said...

Hi Larry - long time, first time -

I was hoping you could speak more specifically about some of the related efforts taking place in East Austin.

As a former Austin resident, and having worked in East Austin (I worked with MHMR's Safe Haven - a shelter for people who are homeless and mentally ill), East Austin appeared to be going through regentrification, much like Houston's midtown. By that I mean lower income housing is being suffocated out by higher priced buildings and communities. Thus forcing poorer residents out of the cities, to areas where access to work isn't as abundant.

If you could speak more about the development in East Austin I would really appreciate that! I'd also like to learn more about this housing opportunity in Dallas, as a possible future resident. I'm a 24 year old, single male with a heart for the poor - and I'm not scared of a little gunfire. :)


Jeremy Gregg said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeremy Gregg said...

I also live in East Dallas, in a neighborhood that my relatives think is dangerous. In fact, they thought I was crazy for buying a house "that did not have a garage."

I have told them that the LACK of a garage was one of the house's best assets. Parking in my driveway and walking through my front yard has helped me to meet literally dozens of my neighbors.

As we discussed at the Urban Engagement Book Club (click for more info) this past Thursday, my life in the city is actually far more safe and healthy than life out in the sprawling suburbs where my relatives live.

My parents knew one neighbor on our block when I was a teenager. That's it! Who could they have called in an emergency? Who was watching after our house when we were out of town?

I now have over a dozen families that I can call at any time of night in my neighborhood, and know about two dozen more whom I consider friends within a half-mile of my house.

THAT is safety. Sure, I have heard a few gun shots over the years. But my life is richer, safer and more meaningful thanks to the genuine community in which I live.

I think that's why we are here: to build community . . . to bring His heaven into this earth.

Paul said...

Hey, I am interested in learning more. I lived in Rio de Janeiro for a seven years and heard lots of gunshots. Who cares? The mission is what is important.

What time frame are you looking for? How do I get more information?

Jeremy Gregg said...

You could contact the CDCDC's Executive Director, John Greenan, here: 214.827.1000 x21 or jgreenan@cdm-hope.org.

Or, click on "Affordable Housing" at CDM's Web site. Look on the left menu.

Or, just go here:


We are working on a new Web site for the Central Dallas CDC, which should be up this week. To get the announcement of when that is available, subscribe to the email list at the top of CDM's Web site.

Larry James said...

Stephen, gentrification is an issue in East Austin; but, as in many cities, it also is a hot bed of community development activity. I am not the person to talk to about it though. I just don't know the players there.

Anonymous said...


I am copying your blog and passing it out in my Bible class tonight, assuming we get to meet. One of our spiritual formation exercise this year is for the entire church to read books together and discuss them. Tonight, we will begin a two week discussion of Robert' Lupton’s Theirs is the Kingdom: Celebrating the Gospel in Urban America. You project gives people one concrete way to respond to our reading.


Dwight Robarts

Larry James said...

Thanks, Dwight! I hope we have some "takers" who will plan on moving to this project we break ground on Dec 19 or thereabout with completion set for sometime in mid-2007.

cierakae said...

I would jump at the opportunity to live in the inner city or East Dallas. Over 15 years ago our family seriously considered a fixer-upper off of Worth. Couldn't afford the mortgage and private school tuition (DISD was not an option).I have often regreted the decision. The youngest is now a high school sophmore. The timing and the objective are so right. I have lived in my middle class, rear-entry garage neighborhood for over 12 years. I am sad and embarassed to say I know only one neighbor by name, and would only recognize two others if I ran into them at the neighborhood store. At least Janet knows her neighborhood's "shadier characters". My neighborhood has them, I just don't know which house is theirs. Safety? I'll trade mine for community and connection.