Fort Worth City Council will consider three affordable housing proposals with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act as part of its latest effort to address affordable housing demand.
The Tarrant County Homeless Coalition is requesting $20 million to create 165 affordable housing units to meet a goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2024. Tara Perez, directions home manager with the city of Fort Worth, will present recommendations at a June 7 council work session, where she will ask council members to fund all or a portion of the housing development.
WHAT IS A HOUSING UNIT? A housing unit is a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a group of rooms, or a single room that is occupied (or if vacant, is intended for occupancy) as separate living quarters. Separate living quarters are those in which the occupants live and eat separately from any other persons in the building and which have direct access from the outside of the building or through a common hall. Source: U.S. Census Bureau
But nothing is certain until the council votes on June 14.
“My understanding is it could change,” Perez said in an email.
If approved, these proposed projects will help bridge a housing gap mirroring a nationwide demand for more affordable housing. The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2022 The Gap report — which uses the most recent data available from 2020 — notes that there were over 197,000 extremely low-income renter households in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metroplex.
In contrast, there were only 38,785 affordable and available rental homes in the metroplex.
The first round of recommendations would create 128 units. Future recommendations to be made in July will add the missing 37 units needed to meet the 165-unit goal.
Chronically homeless people — those who have been homeless for over a year and have a disability — remain a vulnerable population in Fort Worth and often qualify for the most intensive intervention. Examples would be permanent supportive housing, according to the homeless coalition.
A chronically homeless person who is not housed costs around $35,000 per year, according to the homeless coalition.
“I think for us as a community, going forward in the next few years, we are going to have to grapple and address the fact that we have got to figure out how to build housing, especially if we want to continue to grow and thrive as a city,” Tarrant County Homeless Coalition Executive Director Lauren King said.
WHAT IS ARPA?
The American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, is a nearly $2 trillion stimulus package passed in March 2021 by the Biden Administration. The goal of the bill was to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, public health, state and local governments, businesses and individuals.
The funds can be used to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, respond to the negative economic impacts of the public health emergency, and make investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.
The city of Fort Worth received $173.7 million from ARPA.
WHAT IS HOME-ARP? As part of the trillion-dollar stimulus package, $5 billion has been allocated to assist individuals or households who are homeless, at risk of homelessness and other vulnerable populations, by providing housing and rental assistance. These funds are administered through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program known as HOME.
Source: City of Fort Worth, Department of Housing and Urban Development
Six proposals were submitted for the eligible funds but city staff considered only three as a potential recommendation.
Among the recommendations is the construction of the Clifton Riverside on 2406 E. Belknap St. This 94-unit apartment complex has a price tag of $2 million and would house eight permanent supportive housing units. Journey Home Housing, a new quadplexer multifamily project — a single building divided into four dwellings — will be located at 7600 Crowley Road. This project is estimated at $8.1 million and would have 72 permanent supportive housing units.
A new unnamed project at 8843 Camp Bowie West adding 48 permanent supportive housing units at a cost of $4.9 million is also one of the potential recommendations.
“We try really hard to have developments spread out. We don’t just want to make another Lancaster essentially, with housing. They need to be spread out across councils and I really think the city council agrees with that,” King said. “They’re not looking to concentrate housing in one specific area. They’re wanting developments across. It’s important too that, as we look to fit them across the city, they also meet the needs of the neighborhood.”
Fort Worth has already completed several permanent supportive housing projects in the past two years. These include Casa de Esperanza, New Leaf, Palm Tree Apartments and Samaritan House Single Room Occupancy.
“Because it is a goal of the communities to end chronic homelessness by 2024, there’s a sense of urgency in the city and city leadership to really make this happen,” Perez said. “And I think that Casa de Esperanza and New Leaf proved that there can be quality projects that are done well and are a good use of the funds and leverage private funding.”
Each project will be funded through a series of partnerships that utilizes federal and local dollars. Initial funding sources include HOME-ARP and General ARPA funds for a total almost $14 million. An additional $1.2 million from Directions Home Capital will be used. The Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation will contribute $2.5 million in funds alongside a local private fund match.
The city of Fort Worth received $10.5 million in federal dollars. Tarrant County received just under $5.3 million and the city of Arlington just under $4.6 million.
The coalition has asked all three governments for a total investment of over $90 million in ARPA, specifically to build 225 permanent supportive housing units in Fort Worth, Arlington and countywide, King said. So far, $54.5 million in housing projects have been allocated.
“The council has a longtime dedication toward reducing chronic homelessness. There just haven’t been the resources. Now there are,” Perez said.
Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter. 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.