By Sharon Jones-Scaife
AUSTIN, TEXAS – A bill filed by State Rep. Eric Johnson on Friday would allow state funds to flow to residents who lose their homes due to gentrification.
Rep. Johnson filed House Bill 4394 in order to clarify that Texans who lose their homes due to economic development in their neighborhoods are eligible for state funds intended to assist with homelessness prevention. Currently, the state distributes those dollars to cities, which then use them to help residents avoid becoming homeless. But there is ambiguity in the current law over whether someone qualifies for that assistance if their home loss is due to gentrification.
“Homelessness is a serious concern in Dallas and other cities, and it can be caused by a lot of factors,” said Rep. Johnson, D-Dallas. “If someone replaces your home with a high-end apartment that you can’t afford to rent, you should be eligible for the same type of help as someone who is homeless for a different reason. We should not ignore the ways that new construction can upend the lives of people who have lived in their communities for many years.”
House Bill 4394 would address two state programs: the Homeless Housing and Services Program and the Ending Homelessness Fund.
Rep. Johnson sits on the House Urban Affairs Committee. Earlier this week, the committee heard testimony about rising housing costs and what happens when families are priced out of their homes.
“This bill will help us build on the work we are doing in the House Urban Affairs Committee to address homelessness,” Rep. Johnson said. “Housing is becoming more and more expensive in Dallas and other Texas cities, and the Legislature needs to deal with this issue while we are in session this year. This bill can be an important part of our larger effort to combat the causes and real-life effects of homelessness in Texas.”
This article originally appeared in the Dallas Post Tribune.