Will the project have an adverse effect on the neighborhood?
No. Blighted and underutilized properties in cities have become urbanized neighborhoods by promoting inclusiveness and a mix of incomes and uses. Mixed income/mixed use neighborhoods experience an increase of urban vitality and property values because of the greater development density and major reinvestment that accompanies it. Some parts of Dallas are well on their way to becoming re-urbanized and livable. It is taking longer in this District due to conflicting interests, but a trend toward urban vitality is emerging. The 130 residences with enriched services will give this District a ‘quick win’ on its clearly defined goal of creating a balanced neighborhood.
- The most recent and rigorous research studies strongly indicate that the presence of a PSH project does not adversely affect property values. To the contrary, a reduction in the incidence of homelessness and the investment in real estate is actually correlated with increases in neighborhood values over time.
- The project currently exists at this location and has been there for over 25 years. Family Gateway manages 30 supportive housing residences and a community kitchen that serves approximately 100 families with children. They have been a good neighbor within the community and do not have a record of detrimental activities associated with their presence.
Is the project compatible with existing or anticipated development of the area?
Yes. The location, programming and architectural design of EVERgreen Family Residences is consistent with the character and vision stated in the Downtown Dallas 360 Plan – for both the Civic Center District and Farmers Market District which it borders.
- Dallas Civic Center District – The Dallas Civic Center is envisioned to become a more identifiable and thriving district, with government and civic destinations supported by offices, residences and hotels. Many vacant or underutilized buildings with good urban design and architectural “bones” in the district may be suitable for adaptive re-use, particularly for non-profit agencies and support services.
- Farmers Market District – “is envisioned to become Downtown’s first true balanced neighborhood … building into large gaps with low- and mid-rise housing, areas within the Dallas Farmers Market district should develop with complementary uses,” according to the 360. Plan “Additional residences, including townhouses, flats, and lofts are appropriate, while supporting uses and services such as small-scale neighborhood commercial/retail at key corners, parks, tot lots, and even a school are desirable to support the family-friendly atmosphere.”
- Street improvements and amenities will be consistent with the TIF Development guidelines being written (currently in draft form) by the City Design Studio.
- Letters of support for the project have been received by several adjacent property owners who have complementary development plans in progress that also are beneficial to the neighborhood. Ongoing meetings with owner of 500 S Ervay and Farmers Market Stakeholders Association are currently being held.
What makes EVERgreen Family Residences different from other supportive housing developments?
The owners for the next 40 years, Family Gateway, have been providing safe and affordable housing to children and families since 1987. For most of those years, we have had two service sites, the Annette Strauss Center downtown and the Gateway Apartments on Gaston Ave. We are an integral part of these neighborhoods and we care about our community.
While we have been successfully working with neighbors and neighborhood organizations in those two locations for the last 25 years, we have also grown and now serve families at four additional sites, thus we have learned how to bring services into neighborhoods new to us. It is all about intention, standards and execution. We intend to be good neighbors, maintain high standards and we execute on it very effectively every day.
We are very sensitive to and empathetic with concerns that people might have when they hear that we wish to serve “homeless” children in families in their area. Our experience is that they hear the word homeless but not families – the prejudiced associations people have with the word homelessness being so strong. The objectionable behaviors of homeless individuals are just that – the behavior of individuals living alone – and not the behavior we find with our families. Our program is exclusively for families and, like our own families, they want to live in an environment of security and comfort and in a vital neighborhood with access to amenities.
We are engaged and working with the Farmers Market Stakeholders Association and have very clearly heard their concerns. We are confident that, given an opportunity, we can not only distinguish our clients, policies, services and facility from those that cause concern, but demonstrate that our project will become a community asset, will increase property values and bring more high quality residential development and people to the area.
Most of the concerns expressed to us by the neighbors revolve around the many individuals with no place to go and little or nothing to do – and the associated problems that accompany that.
- Open drug and alcohol abuse
- Public indecency
- Negative interaction(s) with the general public, use of foul language
- Diminishing the quality of life
Family Gateway residents create NONE of these problems for our existing neighbors and neighborhoods. We are not naïve enough to believe that every single one of our clients has always been a model citizen; however, by enrolling in our program, they are demonstrating a commitment to do better for themselves and their children.
- Loitering doesn’t occur at FG. Our families are kept busy – either in school, employed or actively seeking employment through classes and working with our staff. Further, security is critical to us and loitering is not allowed by residents or their visitors.
- We have strict policies and procedures banning alcohol and drugs; our clients take urine screens before entering our program and at any time during their residence that their behavior warrants.
- We perform in depth background checks, in addition to the screening by DHA, for the clients utilizing vouchers. While we are aware that some of our families’ circumstances are a result of criminal history, we do not allow anyone who has been convicted of felony crimes against persons into the program.
- By providing our families with all of the necessities that they require, including accessible and dignified means to deal with bodily functions, we have had no problems with public indecency.
- The interaction our families have with the public in and around our sites is directed and is part of life in a community. A significant standard we impart to our families is the importance of living respectfully and cooperatively within their community.
- We experience, on a daily basis, the profound ways that our families contribute to one another’s well being. We build a true sense of belonging and “family” at Family Gateway. Our residents want the same things we all do – safety and security, meaningful and sustaining employment, a decent place for their kids to grow healthy and prosper. They are good people who will vitalize the neighborhood, become part of the social and economic ecosystem, eventually becoming friends with their neighbors.