Mattye Gouldsby Jones on Opportunities in Affordable Housing in Dallas-Fort Worth

There's interest by developers from across the country to build affordable housing here, says Jones, a director at Coats Rose and public policy chair at The Real Estate Council.

Stakeholders can embrace the opportunity, the attorney says. The investment in affordable housing "will be catalytic and will beget economic vibrancy."

Developers from across the U.S. are interested in investing in affordable housing in Dallas-Fort Worth, according to Mattye Gouldsby Jones, a partner in the Affordable Housing and Community Development practice at Coats Rose. It’s a prime opportunity for the region. 

Jones, who specializes in assisting developers with tax credits and bond financing, community development, and legislative matters, is public policy chair at The Real Estate Council.

The market expert sees an environment ripe for Opportunity Zone and financing programs to build Class A multifamily projects that can attract investment and families, while also yielding community amenities, services, and destinations.

She provides insights on embracing our current opportunities in affordable housing in a Q&A.

Jones is among the experts invited to share their thoughts on the CRE market for our recent DALLAS® magazine that focused on how DFW punches above its weight in commercial real estate. Here’s what she had to say in “View from the Top Tier.”

How does the hot real estate market in Dallas-Fort Worth impact affordable housing? 

It’s great for Dallas and for the nation that the real estate market is hot in Dallas-Fort Worth, which contributes to more jobs and the need for more housing. 

The housing product being built does not include a large amount of affordable housing opportunities. Consultants who have studied the problem have stated that DFW is thousands of units behind the need for affordable housing, and the product being constructed does not offer a sufficient number of affordable units given the growth in the region. Consequently, many individuals and families will pay a larger portion of their household income for housing than is ideal, until more affordable housing is available.

Strategies should be explored on how to include affordable units in the new developments.  

How can the DFW CRE community support affordable housing and community development?

The DFW CRE community may support affordable housing and community development in a number of ways.  First, it’s imperative that leadership, in both public and private sectors, commit to developing and executing policy to promote the development of affordable housing.

Affordable housing often includes financial resources that are either financed with tax credits (which is not a subsidy) or has funds that require some form of restrictive use or long-term affordability, but not always.

Neither of these conditions should deter the development of Class A product that happens to lease to persons who desire affordable rents. In many instances developers have site control with plans to construct on land that is zoned and meet opposition from neighbors.

Having a culture of inclusion in all sectors of a city is crucial to having a pathway to develop affordable housing.

Secondly, it is important to educate our citizenry through the public and private sectors with a goal to instill a willingness to support the initiatives for affordable housing.

Thirdly, I suggest that resources be earmarked to support affordable housing and development of commercial facilities, through public and private enterprises, because the investment will be catalytic and will beget economic vibrancy.  

What biggest opportunities for affordable housing and community development in the Dallas region?  

The biggest opportunity for affordable housing and community development in the Dallas region is to promote an environment to utilize the tools for building Class A multifamily amidst communities that will be rich in amenities, services, and destinations. 

The tools include Opportunity Zone and financing programs that attract investment and families.  This is particularly important because traditionally comps are needed in order to garner lending and investment.

There is current interest by developers from all. over the country to build affordable housing in the region.

As stakeholders, we should embrace the initiatives that support these endeavors by identifying qualified and empathetic persons to serve in appointed roles where public-private opportunities are available, as well as encourage bold moves in the corporate and philanthropic sectors. 

What about challenges?

The biggest challenge is NIMBY (“Not In My Backyard”).  There are many myths that affordable housing brings down property values, etc.   Historians have shared the roots of disparities, many based in poor public policy.  I remain encouraged that with commitment, investment, and conviction, the trajectory can and will improve for prosperity for all demographic areas and across the region.   

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

A version of this story first appeared in the print edition of DALLAS® Commercial Real Estate 2022, published by Dallas Next for TREC and the Dallas Regional Chamber. Read more in the digital edition of the magazine below, and request the next print edition here.


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