Tarrant County will no longer be the sole funding source for a Las Vegas Trail affordable housing project, if the Fort Worth City Council approves a proposal by city staff.
The city and the county have reached terms to share costs on the project, called The Casa de Sueno, according to an informal report listed on the City Council’s work session agenda. The county will commit $8 million — $3.6 million less than initially anticipated — and the city will commit $2 million. The city’s contribution will come from its Community Development Block Grant and the Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation.
The agreement comes after the project’s funding was put in doubt as county administrator G.K. Maenius explained the county would “reevaluate” the initial proposal. Several county commissioners had concerns about the county being the only entity giving money to the project;.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Manny Ramirez Ramirez announced the partnership with the city in a tweet Friday, and said, “We can be proud that this agreement not only provides infrastructure investments that this community desperately needs but also meets the rigorous standards for fiscal responsibility that our Tarrant County taxpayers deserve.”
Fort Worth District 3 Councilman Michael Crain represents Las Vegas Trail. The funds will allow families to get back on their feet, he said. The neighborhood in west Fort Worth has been plagued with high crime rates, poverty and rundown housing in recent years, though progress has been made.
The funds the city is using for the project were set aside for investment in housing just like this, Crain said. The funding will not affect any other investments in housing the city has planned.
“I’m very appreciative that everyone came to the table and worked together to continue to make sure this important project came to fruition,” Crain said. “It really was all around a team effort, understanding the issues that the county might have had with the original funding agreement, and understanding that ultimately, it was about the city participating in some way.”
Before final approval, the city will hold a 30-day public comment period, from March 6 to April 6. Once the comment period concludes, the City Council will vote on the proposal. Tarrant County Commissioners Court will vote on the proposal March 7.
In addition, Fort Worth Housing Solutions and Ojala Holdings, the two entities that initially submitted the affordable housing proposal to the county, have agreed to reduce their fees by $258,000 and commit an additional $500,000 to the project.
Even with the city’s funding, there is still a $1.9 million gap for the project and Fort Worth Housing Solutions intends to ask its board to guarantee difference, according to the informal report, and then seek out charitable donations to fill the gap.
“We can and will do life-changing work in Fort Worth and Tarrant County when we strive to work collaboratively,” Mayor Mattie Parker said in a statement. “I am thrilled that together we have found a path forward to make Casa de Suenos a reality.”
What is included in the affordable housing project?
Casa de Suenos will convert the 83-room Express Inn at 8401 West Freeway (Interstate 30) into 55 units of permanent supportive housing, including 12 one-bedroom units, 23 two-bedroom units, and 20 three-bedroom units. Units will range in size from around 400 to 800 square feet, and average 644 square feet per unit.
The project will include a resident lounge and community space, business center, computer lab, and case management offices. Developers also plan to include a dog park, playground, multi-function sport court, activated green courtyard, resident garden, and laundry center.
Fort Worth Housing Solutions and Ojala Holdings partnered previously to purchase, renovate and lease out Casa de Esperanza, the city’s largest permanent supportive housing project located in north Fort Worth. The project, intended to help homeless residents in Fort Worth, has been running since 2020.
This is not the first time the city has invested funds into the revitalization in Las Vegas Trail. Since 2017, the city has supported the nonprofit LVT Rise, which is housed in a Fort Worth community center.
The city began increasing support for the neighborhood after a 2017 Star-Telegram investigation revealed a community struggling with crime – and poverty long ignored by city and county leaders.
Recently, the city invested 3.5 million into Las Vegas Trail through its Neighborhood Improvement Program. It’s one-time funding for infrastructure projects such as streetscaping, lighting, sidewalks, crosswalks and street restriping. The area will also receive a roundabout and a piece of public art.
“Having affordable housing, especially for our most vulnerable, is an important thing that we focused on,” Crain said. “And as I’ve said other times, we’re a big city and we’ve got big city issues and problems so we have to continue to address it.”
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