After The Holston in the Alliance corridor opened in June, Kendrick Ladd moved in with his clothes, a few personal items and his sister’s car. He is an Army veteran who was dealing with homelessness.
Today, Ladd, 32, is running a mobile mechanic business, Kendrick Ladd’s Auto Repair. He is working on getting the LLC paperwork complete.
The Holston does not look like what people might perceive as mixed-income housing. The apartments are built with a modern design, and the complex has amenities like a two-story gym, sand volleyball court and spacious dog park. The complex represents the goal of Fort Worth Housing Solutions: to spread mixed-income developments to help people be self-sufficient and successful.
Fort Worth Housing Solutions has 39 properties around Fort Worth. President Mary-Margaret Lemons said the local housing authority’s goal is to provide affordable housing in every part of the city, which includes inner-city and suburban neighborhoods.
Ladd qualified for rental assistance at The Holston. His unit at the complex is not what he was expecting for low-income housing, he said.
The apartments are near a lot of warehouses, including Amazon, Walmart and FedEx, which are full of job opportunities, he said. Those opportunities allow people to be self-sufficient.
Lemons said Fort Worth Housing Solutions has been building outside Loop 820 for years, 33.3% of complexes are outside the loop. Recent census data shows more Fort Worth residents are living outside Loop 820 than inside.
Along with Holston, which opened in July, Stallion Ridge and other projects along Chisholm Trail are outside 820.
Map of Fort Worth Housing Solutions projects
The organization is limited to Fort Worth city limits, Lemons said, which is why some northeast areas, like Haltom City, seem to be a gap in projects by Fort Worth Housing Solutions. Currently, no housing is scheduled for development in northeast Tarrant County.
The agency is building in southeast Fort Worth, Southeast Fort Worth Inc. President Stacy Marshall said.
The area has been known for low-income and affordable apartments, which Marshall said was a detriment to the area, and there is a need for workforce housing instead.
By adding workforce housing to the area, the units are occupied by people who are working, paying taxes and contributing to the area, Marshall said.
Fort Worth Housing Solutions provides workforce housing and affordable housing, which helps the area, Marshall said.
“They have built new structures and partnered with developers to provide vouchers for people who live in those apartments and brought them up to a higher level or higher quality of living,” he said. “You need to provide people with a different alternative. The normal public housing model breeds a lot of detriment, crime, unhappy people. This gives them the opportunity to mix with people that have a higher income bracket.”
When evaluating areas for potential projects, Lemons said, Fort Worth Housing Solutions looks at many factors, including schools, transportation, grocery stores, land and a lack of affordable housing.
A neighborhood getting attention from the organization is Stop Six, Lemons said. Phase one of the projects in that neighborhood have begun, with phase two breaking ground by 2022. When complete, there will be 1,000 units of housing built.
The city has included a new community center in the proposed 2022 bond, she said.
All of the traditional public housing now is converted to mixed-income developments in the city, Lemons said. The goal is to help Stop Six, and other neighborhoods across Fort Worth, fight poverty by providing opportunity and self-sufficiency.
As the city grows and looks for housing solutions to meet its needs, Marshall said, gentrification can’t be stopped. Instead, he said the goal should be what he calls “gentle-fication.”
This would mean people coming to the table to have the right type of growth, he said. Even so, the city is moving faster than some people want, he said.
“People like to take their time in making their decisions,” Marshall said. “And then when you look up, it’s right there in your neighborhood.”
In his work, Marshall said, he is being intentional to include everyone from the developer to the community in discussing new projects.
Development needs to be considerate of people who don’t make a lot of money or who are on fixed income so they can continue to live in their neighborhoods, he said.
Marshall likes to use what’s called the “main streets model,” he said. That means having blocks that are small communities with multifamily housing, restaurants, local businesses and walkability. The model allows business to thrive in the neighborhood and serve those who live there.
The work at Evans and Rosedale streets is an example of this, he said. It will have “something for everybody” with mixed-use entertainment, walkability in a safe environment, shopping and restaurants.
For the past eight years, Lemons said, housing authority officials have worked with the city to purchase lots that were vacant and seen as a blight preventing other development from happening.
“We try to come in and take those pieces of land that weren’t being used to their fullest and highest potential to create something that is going to be affordable for the community forever,” she said. “When we build a project, our intention is to be the long-term landowner and to keep it affordable. Thereby having those options in the neighborhood that didn’t exist before for people to stay with affordable rents.”
For Ladd, seeing his neighbors who work in higher-paying jobs motivates him because they live in the same complex as he does, and he can reach for higher goals, too.
“When I get up in the morning, instead of just sitting here looking out the window and seeing a lot of people that are just sitting around, living off of the system or just kind of just being there, I see people actually getting up at 5 o’clock, 6 o’clock, getting the car started. People are going to work or people are coming off getting back off from work,” he said. “It’s very motivational.”
Kristen Barton is an enterprise reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.