THE CITY’S ROLE IN ALLEVIATING POVERTY
Low income families tend to concentrate in the central city because of older housing stocks, lower rents and more jobs employing unskilled labor.
Because of this concentration, the cost of alleviating poverty is too great for the central city, in this case Dallas, to bear.
In order to spread the burden, welfare efforts are, rightly, the province of the state and federal government. Otherwise, people who live in the suburbs will not bear their fair share and Dallas residents will be overburdened.
WHAT CAN THE CITY DO
I. The Dallas Housing Authority administers public housing and rent subsidies. It is not part of city government but the City of Dallas appoints the governing board. The city can appoint board members who are knowledgeable and diligent to ensure that the program is administered fairly, that maximum results are obtained for each dollar spent and that all available state and federal aid is secured.
II. There are many welfare programs available to help low income families. Unfortunately, finding the sources of welfare is complicated and low income people are often ill equipped to find them. The City should have a department in the Office of Community Care with a staff devoted to helping our citizens take maximum advantage of available aid programs.
III. The city staff should ensure that the City takes maximum advantage of any grants, public or private, that are available to affordable housing or other poverty programs are secured and effectively spent.
IV. Public works money should be distributed equally across the City on a per capita basis. The council person in each district should guide, but not direct, the spending of public works money in his/her district.
V. Affordable housing is disappearing as older homes are razed and newer, more expensive ones are built on the lot. The City should begin planning and zoning for multi-family housing to provide for people who are displaced. Improvements to streets and utilities will likely be required to accommodate the higher densities and availability of public transportation should be considered.
VI. Enterprise Zones provide a unique opportunity to create relatively unskilled jobs in areas that sorely need them. The City can aid in this effort by offering a property tax rebate to the extent that companies that locate in these Enterprise Zones use the money to train their employees. The training and new jobs will increase incomes and make what was once unaffordable housing affordable.