The HUD letter of findings of civil rights violations continues to reverberate in Dallas. In a strongly worded editorial today the Dallas Morning News said the paper is “deeply concerned about federal allegations that the city of Dallas misused housing funds to promote downtown at the expense of southern Dallas neighborhoods.”
This newspaper is encouraged that [Mayor] Rawlings vows to get to the bottom of the complaints and to make sure the council and the city’s housing and economic development offices remedy the problem, which could result in the loss of federal housing funds. We are pleased that the mayor immediately asked the interim city manager to arrange a meeting with HUD officials and that the council will be briefed in detail next week.
Dallas must get this right.
This demand for action is welcome even if the newspaper seems a little confused about what the core problem really is. The paper has led a campaign to revitalize South Dallas for a number of years in which it seems at times to equate revitalization with targeting more and more federal housing funds to build subsidized housing in South Dallas. It is the segregation of the African-American and Hispanic population in South Dallas carried out through city policies restricting affordable housing to that part of the city that is at the core of the civil rights violations that HUD found.
The city must own up to the problem and act to break down the long-standing walls of residential racial segregation in the white neighborhoods of North Dallas. When city officials meet with HUD to discuss these findings let’s hope the city finally does acknowledge the nature of the problem. Whether Dallas does so largely depends on whether Mayor Rollins has the courage and political skill to acknowledge that the solution lies more in North Dallas than in South Dallas.
Over many decades the city of Dallas built a hyper segregated city through public policy. The HUD findings show that the city has continued policies that promote segregation. The city must own up to that. Having built a segregated city through public policy only the city, through changing those policies, can dismantle segregation.