Cowtown Might Put Housing in Bond To Fight Homelessness

Homeless person | Image by Joe McBride/Getty Images

Addressing housing affordability could take a new direction if the Fort Worth City Council and the city’s voters approve of a proposed housing bond allocation.

Fort Worth has typically relied on private investments and housing tax credits to incentivize new housing construction, reported KERA News.

Cities such as Austin, Dallas, and Houston have implemented housing allocations in their bond elections to address issues caused by homelessness and vagrancy, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Fort Worth recently launched a $1 million pilot program to combat homelessness in the city, reported NBC 5 DFW. The city is partnering with My Health My Resources of Tarrant County, which will target the city’s areas most affected by homelessness. The city has seen an increase in its homeless population, with a report showing that homelessness jumped from around 1,000 people in 2021 to 2,500 in 2023.

According to Fort Worth’s Neighborhood Conservation Plan and Housing Affordability Strategy, $1.7 billion of bond money would be allocated for 19,000 units and $2.9 billion for 32,000 units to address the purported “affordability gap.”

“I don’t know how we are, as a community, going to raise the capital if we don’t do some kind of bond,” said Lauren King, executive director of the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition, per KERA.

Neighborhood Services — a city department that manages taxpayer-backed housing assistance programs, neighborhood improvement strategies, and homebuyer assistance programs — has proposed that $100 million in capital funds be considered for the bond. According to the proposal, the funds would be used for single-family housing and housing for the homeless.

“We’ve been playing catch-up for years just with infrastructure to support the rapid growth that’s been occurring,” said Eric Fladager, assistant finance director for the city.

The Dallas Express contacted Fort Worth City Council Member Alan Blaylock for comment. Blaylock said that there was still more discussion that needed to take place.

“There will be a lot of proposals for spending during the upcoming budget discussions and for the future bond election. My priority and focus will continue to be public safety, infrastructure, and lower taxes,” Blaylock told DX.

Newer council members such as Chris Nettles and Jared Williams support the housing allocation for the bond election.

“As we prepare for the bond, I would like to see an option available including a housing proposition,” Williams said, KERA reported. “I think it’s important as a council that we have a discussion about what does it look like and give it a fair shot to do that.”

Nearby Dallas has also been struggling with housing solutions for the homeless, as recently reported by DX.

As previously reported by DX, 76% of Dallas residents were dissatisfied with the levels of homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling seen in their neighborhoods and throughout Dallas, according to a survey conducted by DX.

Cities such as San Antonio have implemented a “one-stop-shop” model for dealing with homelessness, which has been credited with reducing homelessness by 77% in the city’s downtown area. The model has polled favorably among Dallas residents.

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