With housing costs on the rise across Texas, finding an affordable place to live has become a crisis for too many families. Family incomes are not rising nearly as quickly as home prices in most regions of the state. According to studies, housing costs should account for less than 31 percent of a family’s income; but unfortunately, almost half of all Texas households (49 percent) are spending more than that to keep a roof over their heads. They are considered cost-burdened, and that burden increases as housing and rental costs rise to 40 percent, 50 percent or even more of a family’s monthly income.
A group of concerned businessmen and businesswomen in Dallas is doing its part to help cost-burdened citizens in the area find affordable housing. Advance Community Fund (ACF), an emerging CDFI 501c3, launched in 2019 to advance economic mobility and community revitalization that benefits underserved communities and their most vulnerable populations. The group isn’t focusing solely on housing. It’s also tackling health care, access to food/groceries, financial education, shoring up community assets and job creation—noting that affordable housing is only one piece of a complicated puzzle that produces sustainable, secure and effective communities.
“Advance Community Fund focuses on building strong, resilient communities through affordable housing, community assets and job creation,” says Michael Yorba, the group’s chairman and CEO. “We work with partners to create affordable housing within existing neighborhoods. According to a Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies report, nearly half of Texas households that rent were considered moderately or severely cost-burdened by 2018. The Dallas area is the most extreme example of this in Texas. There, the market added more than 199,000 units available for $1,400 per month or more between 2008 and 2018—but the number of rental units available for less than $800 decreased by 73 percent.”
Yorba goes on to site examples of Texans who qualify as cost-burdened, including child-care providers ($25,560 average yearly income), veterans ($44,241), police ($49,667), paramedics/EMT ($36,045), teachers ($42,579) and the elderly ($25,601).
ACF is counting on financial support from Texas community banks and businesses to help ease the poverty burden in the Dallas area. “We believe that private/public partnerships will be the key to affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization in our great city,” Yorba notes. “Together, we can serve to improve the standard of living for families. Our area of impact is roughly 40 percent of the Dallas landmass, impacting roughly 3 million people. These projects may take as long as 10 years to complete, but will leave a legacy that will live on for generations.”
“Texas is very unaffordable for the lowest-income households,” says Whitney Airgood-Obrycki, research associate for the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “[The state] is seeing affordability pressures grow…faster than the rest of the country.” According to the Texas Tribune, Texas has one of the highest burden rates in the nation for low-income renters making less than $15,000.
Upon its launch, ACF targeted housing in South Dallas as its first initiative. Through its partner, Dallas-based Texas Brand Bank, ACF generated an impact loan to refurbish five existing homes in Dallas, which equates to helping up to 25 individuals thwart poverty. ACF establishes the pricing for affordable housing based on city, state and federal studies on the area. Each construction and development partner is vetted through partner banks. It is estimated that the group’s $200,000 initial commitment has already garnered a community impact of $750,000.
With five homes constructed under ACF’s program, the team is focusing on additional projects, including five grocery stores, three medical facilities, multi-family affordable housing projects and more, primarily in South Dallas. Currently, ACF is partnering with Texas Brand Bank, Fidelity Charitable, Carr, Riggs & Ingram CPAs and Advisors, the CDFI Coalition, the City of Dallas, Texas A&M University, Dallas Colleges, the Texas Bankers Association, the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency Business Center and the Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council Inc. But to realize its full vision, the group is counting on Texas banks and businesses to help through direct contributions, which will be matched with federal grant dollars; founding investors in ACF; and affordable housing partnerships.
Yorba was recently interviewed on Dallas’ KDFW TV program Fox 4 News discussing ACF’s initiatives. Click here to view the interview, along with other recent ACF news items.
Those interested in helping Advance Community Fund revitalize impoverished communities in Dallas County, contact Michael Yorba, 972/313-5475.