What would happen if people of faith and goodwill came together to do, as one of my good friends often suggests, "a big, hairy, audacious" thing about poverty?
I've got one in mind.
First, a little background.
Thanks to our expanding partnership with the Baylor Health Care System and to that system's growing commitment to health equity in the community, we need more space for our Community Health Services division. We currently have three full-time physicians and two dentists that are supported by a full complement of assistants necessary to operate a first-class "medical home" for our patients.
Because of a dramatic growth in patient load, our team is literally packed into a much too small clinic facility.
At the same time, our Resource Center on Haskell Avenue, the flashpan of all that we do at Central Dallas Ministries, is also taxed beyond belief. We need more space for people, volunteers, storage and a re-vamped, expanded grocery store.
Then there is the Downtown Dallas project, CityWalk @ Akard to provide 200 units of housing for low-income working people, including 50 formerly homeless persons.
All of these factors conspire to provide us with an amazing challenge and opportunity!
Here is our "needs list" broken out as a development budget with a sentence narrative as to how the funds would be utilized:
- $750,000.00 to remodel and convert our current headquarters building at 409 N. Haskell into a clinic that would more than triple our capacity for health, wellness and healing.
- $1.5 to $2 million to purchase and rehab an old grocery store building or warehouse in South Dallas for use as a totally new and expanded Resource Center and Co-Op Grocery Club.
- $23 million to purchase and rehab the 15-story CityWalk @ Akard building for the relocation of our leadership staff, public interest law firm, Institute for Faith Health Research Dallas offices, Community Development Corporation, CDM WorkPaths program, credit union and development team. In addition, one floor would be devoted to retail development and twelve floors would be redeveloped as affordable and nine units of market rate housing.
So, how on earth do we get there from here?
Well, first we must jettison all negative, narrow, "can't do" thinking. That may be the hardest part of the assignment!
Once we are content to live and to walk in a very large vision without any clear end in sight, we can go to work on making the deal happen.
What we face is a funding need approaching $26 million. Here's how the revenue side of the budget could look:
- $11 million may come from the low-income, housing tax credit application that we have in with the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) currently. If you know anyone on that board, write or call them on our behalf!
- $2.5 million may come from our historic tax credit application that will be submitted to the state.
- $1.75 million has been committed by the City of Dallas to CityWalk @ Akard.
- $4 million doesn't seem completely out of line as the part that could be funded by local, state and national foundations in the form of grants to meet the needs of low-income persons attempting to build better lives and communities.
- $3 million should come from private philanthropy, including individuals, churches and civic organizations--I can see us employing "matching dollar" strategies here to maximize the donations.
- $2 million should come from corporate interests. Some of this could be in the form of "in-kind" donations for materials, construction, etc.
- Chase Bank has indicated that CDM could expect to finance up to $6 million of the City Walk @ Akard project. However, our goal would be to complete all proposed expansion activities without needing to borrow funds.
Given this projection, our total revenue comes to over $30 million.
Will we be able to accomplish something so ambitious for the benefit of our friends and neighbors who find themselves at the bottom of the social and economic ladder in Dallas?
I say if we can find this sort of funding for houses of worship, art museums, athletic stadiums, convention centers, public parks and green spaces and private dwellings, we certainly should be up to such a challenge when it comes to people working hard to build healthier communities and better lives for themselves and their families.
Better yet, your help!