Housing Crunch Hits Low Income Families Hardest

In May, Dallas plans on razing Tent City, a four block encampment of the homeless under a bridge along I-45. Dallas leaders are hoping to be able to find housing or emergency shelter for the estimated 233 people living there. The difficulty for those fighting homelessness is compounded by the tight housing market in North Texas.

A recent survey conducted by the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance found that homelessness has risen by 24% over last year in the area. It’s estimated that nearly 4,000 people are homeless in Dallas and Collin Counties right now. Rising rents and sale prices of homes are putting extraordinary pressure on lower income families in North Texas, making it harder to find and keep suitable housing. Once a family finds itself in crisis, it becomes even harder to find housing because competition for available housing is fierce.

Having plentiful affordable housing is critical to maintaining a healthy city. Researchers have found that homeownership leads to higher academic achievement for children, in part because the stability of owning a home provides for a more coherent experience for kids in school. Also, homeowners are more likely to be invested and active in their children’s schooling. Further, homeowners spend more money on home improvements and are more engaged in their communities, leading to stronger communities and more civic involvement. This more active involvement in the community and with families has been shown to result in higher levels of self-esteem and lower rates of substance abuse and teenage pregnancy. More homeowners also mean a stronger local economy. That’s because home ownership creates jobs both service industries and in retail. In fact, it’s estimated that each home purchase generates as much as $60,000 of economic activity in the local and surrounding area.

MetroTex Association of REALTORS encourages North Texans to reach out to our neighbors who are struggling to cope with higher housing costs by supporting local charitable groups who work to end homelessness every day. Fortunately, there are quite a few reputable organizations helping the homeless in North Texas every day. Many of whom will gladly accept volunteers and donations to the cause.

Among the many groups in the area are the aforementioned Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA) and CitySquare. North Texans who want to get involved may contribute to the MDHA Flex Fund, which provides much needed assistance for relatively small items that are critical for securing and maintaining a residence, like application fees, bus passes, help with medical bills, or job-related expenses like uniforms or safety equipment. Often these small items can be the difference in keeping a working family in housing. CitySquare is another local group actively working against poverty in the Dallas area through its vast number of programs to address hunger, housing, employment and medical care. Local residents can help CitySquare through volunteering or donations either their thrift store or through planned giving.

A simple way to help most local charities is to link your shopper cards or purchases to specific organizations. Check with your local store to see if you can direct a portion of your shopping to these charities. For instance, Kroger, Tom Thumb and Amazon Smile are well-known participants.

Those who do find themselves needing assistance should call 211 for recommendations to organizations that can help you.

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home in North Texas, ask a MetroTex Realtor or go to DFWRealEstate.com