Tarrant County leaders are courting potential partnerships to provide funding for an affordable housing project in the Las Vegas Trail neighborhood, after reevaluating their initial financial plan.

G.K. Maenius, county administrator, said the county is engaging both public and private entities in the effort. The county partnered with the city of Fort Worth to fund three other affordable housing projects, approved by the county Feb. 28. Those collaborative efforts are more common than the county footing the bill alone, Maenius said. 

The initial $11.6 million proposal for the Las Vegas Trail project would’ve been solely funded by the county through its federal COVID-19 relief funds, also known as the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA. The project was announced in December, prior to the newly elected county commissioners taking office in January. 

Precinct 4 Commissioner Manny Ramirez, one of three newly elected commissioners, previously expressed concern that fully funding the project could be seen as gifting tax dollars to a private, nonprofit entity. The commissioners court told county staff to reevaluate the project, and see if they could secure outside funding. 

Because of ongoing negotiations, Maenius couldn’t share the names of the entities the county is hoping to partner with on the project, but said conversations are moving forward. He told the Fort Worth Report that the county is satisfied with how things are progressing. 

The city of Fort Worth received the largest pot of federal COVID-19 recovery dollars out of the municipalities in Tarrant County, and the city has leveraged its dollars in joint projects with the county before.

City leaders have invested heavily in the Las Vegas Trail area in recent years; that, combined with their ARPA funds, make them a strong candidate to help to fund the project. 

Fort Worth’s Housing Finance Corporation approved its Las Vegas Trail Neighborhood

Transformation Plan during its Feb. 28 meeting. 

“The city is committed to partnering with the county to help make the project a reality,” Victor Turner, director of Neighborhood Services, said in a statement.

Other affordable housing projects moving forward

The Tarrant County Commissioners Court approved around $8 million in COVID-19 relief funds on Feb. 28 to support three affordable housing projects in Fort Worth in partnership with Fort Worth Housing Solutions, Presbyterian Night Shelter and Tobias Place. 

The city of Fort Worth also announced the purchase of 15 acres from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to house up to 140 families. The lot is at the corner of West Drew Street, McCart Avenue, West Bolt Street and Lubbock Avenue. 

This latest public-private partnership is expected to cost about $11 million. While not finalized, the development is looking to designate some units for victims of domestic violence and the rest for families exiting homelessness. 

The need for affordable housing is growing, as the city is seeing a 50% increase in families that are homeless in the last quarter of 2022 compared to the previous year. A person living unsheltered for a year can cost the city between $30,000 and $40,000, according to previous reporting

In a statement, Mayor Mattie Parker said the partnership to buy the 15 acres from the seminary showcases the city’s commitment to families and ensuring every child has the support they need.

“As we face a crisis of family homelessness across the country, we are fortunate in Fort Worth to have nonprofit and philanthropic partners that are committed to working alongside the City to ensure we are investing in the needed housing and services for our most vulnerable,” Parker said.

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.

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Sandra SadekBusiness Reporter

Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. Originally from Houston, she graduated from Texas State University where she studied journalism and international...

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Emily WolfGovernment Accountability Reporter

Emily Wolf is a local government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Originally from Round Rock, Texas, she spent several years at the University of Missouri-Columbia majoring in investigative...