Dallas, Texas – The Dallas City Plan Commission recently dismissed a proposal put forth by Habitat for Humanity, intending to erect 30 houses within the historical Joppa district. The proposed construction site was previously utilized as an athletic field for the Melissa Pierce School.
City of Dallas dismissed the Joppa Community proposal, but that might change in the future
However, the City Plan Commission’s decision is not the ultimate determinant of the project’s fate.
Bill Eubanks, the CEO of Dallas area Habitat for Humanity, has expressed his commitment to realizing this venture, stating that the non-profit will relentlessly strive to deliver 30 new homes to the Dallas area.
Shalondria Galimore, the presiding figurehead of the South Central Civic League, a local resident of Joppa, asserts the immense historical significance of the proposed land. This plot holds rich ties to the Freedman’s Town, situated on the outskirts of Oak Cliff in Southern Dallas.
Joppa, established by the federal government as a sanctuary for freed slaves, was brought into the limelight via a locally-produced documentary. The land in question was originally donated by Melissa Pierce, a former slave’s daughter, for the establishment of a K-12 school. After the enactment of desegregation, the school was disbanded in 1968.
“She said if it ever stopped being a school, she wanted it to be for the community,” she said, as reported by FOX 4 News.
Having now claimed ownership over this historical land, Habitat for Humanity proposed the construction of 30 homes on a 4-acre portion of the 11-acre property.
The Dallas County Commissioner’s Court gave their nod of approval to a $1.6 million grant earmarked for road construction and the development of 30 affordable housing lots. The initiative is set to provide potential homebuyers with a zero percent financing option.
Dallas Habitat CEO Bill Eubanks said in a statement, “Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity has built more than 150 homes and repaired nearly 100 homes in the Joppa community since 1986. While the details of these homesites are still in discussions, we look forward to working with all parties to ensure that 30 more deserving families are able to achieve the dream of homeownership right here in Dallas.”
Joppa residents seek infrastructure projects and development before new housing units are built
However, the residents of the Joppa neighborhood are grappling with an unresolved issue of train derailment debris that remains unattended.
Claudia Fowler, a Joppa resident, voiced her concern during the City Plan Commission meeting, indicating that the community’s opposition extends beyond historical preservation.
“Now, they have gentrified our community. We don’t want another 30 homes,” she said. “What are they doing for us except adding 30 more homes for people who don’t know our history?”
During the meeting on July 6, Commissioner Melissa Kingston expressed her disapproval of the city staff’s recommendation to approve the lot platting.
“The proposed lots do not confirm with lot pattern in adjacent areas,” she said.
Despite Kingston’s motion to deny passing, it is not likely the final determination.
A representative from Habitat stressed that they were still in the initial stages of the process.
Joppa’s residents have made it clear that any consideration for the construction of additional homes must be preceded by improvements in infrastructure and the reinstatement of a youth sports field.