Over 100,000 households across Fort Worth spend over 30% of their income on housing.
That is one of the findings from the city’s latest Neighborhood Conservation Plan and Housing Affordability Strategy. The report, put together by Interface Studio, contains recommendations as Fort Worth tries to address its affordable housing crisis.
Victor Turner, director of neighborhood services for the city, said that, although the city was aware of the increased burden on families across Fort Worth, the data and analysis in this newest report further highlighted the severity of the issue.
“We’re looking at all the recommendations right now and after council adopts it, we’ll be able to have a little bit more of a focused approach as far as which items we can address first,” Turner said.
The findings of the report, which began in late June 2022, will be presented to the City Council on Aug. 15. Council will vote to adopt the report’s findings at its Aug. 22 meeting.
Creating vibrant neighborhoods with affordable housing
The report highlights distressed and challenged neighborhoods, areas that suffer from significant physical and social issues and where the housing market is weak. They include the historic Northside, east and southeast Fort Worth, Como, Las Vegas Trail, Rosemont and Worth Heights.
In contrast, the city’s stable and thriving neighborhoods, where community and market services are strong and outperforming the rest of the city, include Arlington Heights, Camp Bowie, the Clearfork area and parts of the Alliance area.
As Fort Worth continues to be one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, its job growth is projected to outpace the housing supply, leaving residents vulnerable to a volatile housing market. Homes under $200,000 represented just 12% of the market in 2021 compared with 83% a decade ago, according to the report.
In 2021, the median sale price for a single-family home in Fort Worth was $296,000 and the median income was $64,567, according to the report.
The rental market also has not been spared. Since March 2020, rent in Fort Worth increased 22.8% — slightly higher than the 22.4% increase in Dallas.
The impact of higher housing prices can already be seen across the city. According to the report, 29% of Fort Worth households with incomes below $75,000 live in areas where displacement is in progress or is a high risk. Of those households, 81% of the residents identify as Hispanic, Black or another non-white group.
Other issues directly related to a growing affordable housing crisis are increased homelessness and evictions.
Developing solutions for long-term success
City Council and staff are working on the fiscal year 2024 budget, and are looking at putting in place some of the report’s recommendations.
Assistant City Manager Fernando Costa said supporting the development of affordable housing across the city will allow Fort Worth to remain competitive “in our pursuit of talent and economic investment.”.
“As Fort Worth continues to grow at a faster rate than any other big city in the country, many of our residents are struggling more than ever before to find suitable housing that they can afford,” Costa said in a statement. “The affordable housing strategic plan will provide us with a sound guide for meeting those goals.”
The proposed 2024 budget includes increasing the Neighborhood Improvement Program’s funding from $4 million to $8 million and allowing neighborhood services to invest in two neighborhoods a year rather than just one. The budget also calls for a proposed $2 million increase for the Priority Repair Program and additional funding for homeless services.
“(Some of the recommendations) are low-hanging fruit and there are some things in there that are going to be a little bit more cost-intensive,” Turner said.
Recommendations in the report can be applied across the entire city or to specific neighborhoods that may need stabilizing, Turner said.
Some of the recommendations include creating community development corporations that provide programs, services and community-supportive development in challenged communities. One current example is LVTRise, the Las Vegas Trail Revitalization project.
Other suggestions include annual report cards on the progress of key community programs; creating a land bank program for vacant properties; keeping neighborhoods clean with trash and litter pickup; specializing code enforcement to make sure larger issues are addressed over low-level violations; and investing in a diverse housing stock.
Closing the gap will require a collaborative effort between the city, nonprofits and the private sector, Turner said.
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be the city that’s spending the capital to do it,” Turner said. “I don’t think we can get this stuff done unless there are some partnerships.”
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 on Twitter at @ssadek19.
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