Saturday, September 13, 2014

Defending a Basic Right by Charles Gulley, Vice President of Programs, MDHA

It is unfortunate that time must be spent defending a basic right that belongs to all human beings in the free world, i.e. the right to live where one wishes to live. In Frisco, there are those who believe that developing restrictive covenants or deed restrictions provide protective immunity to practices of institutional classism, making the bold assumption that persons from lower socio-economic strata would lower property values.

This past week, the Dallas Morning News released the 2014 Point-in-Time Homeless Census Count that shows a trend of increasing homelessness among families, women with children, and youth.  Several studies over the past decade and a half have shown the Dallas area lacking affordable housing for low-income households. The lack of affordable housing, coupled with those who would restrict where persons could live, only exacerbates the problem of homelessness. Unless preventative measures are taken like those being exercised by City House, i.e. housing the homeless to improve persons lives, homeless numbers are bound to grow. If HOAs and other communities can deed restrict communities and deed restrict the use of those properties to keep certain groups out, where are people supposed to live? Where will families and young adults live who need to stabilize their living conditions to improve their lives?

The disregard of inalienable rights of human beings being subordinated to the maintenance of property values cast a dark shadow on the HOA and Frisco, leaving way to charges of societal prejudice and class discrimination. Fair housing laws must be invoked to protect the rights of those who only want a place to live. There is no evidence that City House’s action of moving into the Frisco neighborhood has negatively impacted any property values.

Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance stands in support of City House’s right to own and occupy a house in that Frisco neighborhood and any neighborhood of their choice. With increasing homelessness among certain groups and a short supply of affordable housing, restricting where people can live just to protect property values is, first and foremost, humanely wrong. Second, it is not good for the Dallas area if we want to stop homelessness and assist persons to become productive citizens. The legal action being taken by the HOA will only hurt the region’s image and the region’s attempt to overcome homelessness, poverty, and other associated societal problems.

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