Advocacy Overview

Advocacy is an essential part of our mission at Dallas Habitat for Humanity. We advocate for affordable housing not only in Dallas but at the state and national levels too. By serving as an advocate on numerous levels, Dallas Habitat strives to make an even greater impact on the affordability crisis in North Texas and across the nation.

Official 2022 Policy Positions

Increase supply and preservation of affordable homes for low to moderate-income households

Crucial, federal investments in affordable housing are failing to keep up with local needs. To supplement static or declining federal housing resources, we are engaging in broad advocacy initiatives to persuade local and state governments to raise significant new housing resources of their own. These local and state funds are being used for a wide range of housing activities, tailored to local priorities. They are also leveraging other housing investments several times over.

  1. Strengthen and preserve neighborhoods by creating homestead preservation districts, neighborhood empowerment zones and initiating other strategies that protect communities from gentrification while encouraging new growth and long need revitalization.
  2. Establishing and expanding state housing tax credits
  3. Increasing general fund appropriations for housing

Optimize land use for affordable housing

Zoning restrictions and high land prices can make it prohibitively difficult to build or preserve affordable homes in opportunity-connected communities. In some towns and city neighborhoods, zoning ordinances ban small-lot homes, cottages or multifamily housing. In other communities, strict zoning limits and discretionary approval processes can drive up the time, risk and cost of building affordable homes to the point that their development is not viable. In redeveloping and strong-market neighborhoods, high land prices can pose an even bigger barrier to affordable homes, as intense competition heats up land costs and makes viable development opportunities scarce.

In response to these challenges, our advocacy will work to reform land-use policies at the local and state levels to ensure there is space for a wide range of affordable housing opportunities in each community. Policies will also build support for tools such as community land trusts and other shared-equity models that help take land “off the market,” preserve affordable homeownership opportunities over the long term, and provide low-income families with a means of building wealth.

  1.  Streamlining discretionary land use approvals to reduce the time, risk and cost of building affordable homes.
  2. Mandating or incentivizing the inclusion of affordable homes in new market-rate development. Such policies are sometimes referred to as “incentive zoning,” “inclusionary housing” and “mixed-income housing” policies. Increasingly, localities are allowing taller buildings and greater development intensity along transit corridors for developments that include a minimum share of affordable homes. Other mixed-income housing policies apply whenever a zoning change is requested.
  3. Fostering community land trusts and other shared-equity models to help land remain available for affordable homes over the long term and provide opportunities to build wealth among low-income community members

Ensuring access to and development of communities of opportunity

Many neighborhoods in Dallas are struggling to rebound after decades of disinvestment. Crumbling infrastructure, health hazards, abandoned homes and unsafe streets stifle residents’ potential and inhibit new development. Years of public and private investment decisions have also left many communities disconnected from jobs, green space, good schools and essential goods and services.

Our local and state advocacy is steering new public resources to distressed communities. Advocacy is also advancing policies that help neighborhood residents stay and benefit as overall conditions improve. Along the way, we want our advocacy efforts to empower local residents to be leaders in these efforts rather than bystanders to ensure that neighborhood revitalization is both equitable and sustainable.

  1. Establishing property tax “circuit breaker” to ensure low income homeowners are not displaced by rising property tax values
  2. Building advocacy capacity of local neighbors to take control of their communities’ redevelopment
  3. Expanding resources for home repair, home modification and weatherization assistance
  4. Fostering community land trusts and other shared-equity models to help land remain available for affordable homes over the long term and provide opportunities to build wealth among low-income community members
  5. All neighborhoods are valued and entitled to basic minimum standards of City Services and amenities, public safety, health, transportation, sidewalks, parks, Wi-Fi, etc. Dallas should be proud of every neighborhood and deal equitably and consistently with all communities

Promote financial stability and equitably increase access to credit

Mortgage credit is difficult, if not impossible, for many households to access. Credit standards have tightened since the Great Recession, and lending to lower-income households has declined. Barriers to accessing affordable credit for low-income families include difficulties in saving enough for a down payment, debt exacerbated by predatory lending, low pay, high late fees, asset penalty laws, and limited access to financial and homebuyer education.

  1. Investing in homebuyer counseling and financial literacy
  2. Boosting working families’ incomes through state earned income tax credits
  3. Support more inclusive approaches to credit scoring. The upcoming generation of homebuyers is more diverse and more likely to have non-traditional income sources (e.g. self-employment) or no credit score at all. Habitat would support efforts to design, test, and validate new ways of underwriting and evaluating credit-worthiness that ensure the next generation is not locked out. This could include models that use alternative data, such as rent and utility payment histories.
  4. Expanding down payment assistance programs