Council Vote: HUD grant to Dallas Black Dance Theater

Today the city council considered whether to accept a $120K HUD grant to Dallas Black Dance Theater for renovations to their new home at the Moreland YMCA in the Arts District.

Dallas Black Dance Theater is the city’s oldest dance troupe, and it has received numerous awards and is nationally renown. Ann Williams founded DBDT in 1976 to provide dance opportunities for minorities. Today, DBDT offers those opportunities to everyone.

The historically Black Moorland YMCA building will be a permanent home for the company’s rehearsal studios, training classrooms and administrative offices.

ACTION: I moved to approve (passed unanimously)

Council Vote: Budget for HUD Grants

Dallas will receive $40.7M next year from the federal government in the form of Housing and Urban Development Grant Funds. The money is for Community Development Block Grants (“CDBG”) ($26.8M), HOME Investment Partnerships Program ($8.8M), American Dream Down-Payment Initiative ($356K), Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS ($3.8M), and Emergency Shelter Grant ($775K).

The money from HUD has to be spent for very particular programs that assist low-income areas and residents. This money does NOT go into our general fund. Because of a deadline from the federal government, we had to decide today how to spend the money. In general, the proposed budget provides a good balance of programs.

ACTION: Passed (AH voting YES)

The Mayor proposed three amendments to the CDBG budget:

Amendment 1 was to reduce the amount of money going to the South Dallas Development Corporation’s Business Loan Program by $434K, and put that money into the general fund to pay for SDDC staffing (which is usually paid for from the general fund without reimbursement). It made sense to me to pay for program staffing from CDBG funds rather than the general fund, so I supported this amendment.

ACTION: Passed 10-1 (AH voting YES)

Amendment 2 was to cut the SDDC’s Business Loan Program by an additional $1.2M and to use the majority of those funds on fixing recreation centers in CDBG-eligible areas ($195K would have been for city staff to take over administering these loans from the SDDC).

Some members of the council argued that there were problems with the SDDC, including significant cost overruns on renovations to a building given to the SDDC as well as a lack of city council involvement on the SDDC board. However, the SDDC did not use CDBG funds for the building, and despite problems with the building, there was no evidence that the SDDC did not do a good job administering loans to South Dallas businesses, providing much-needed jobs and economic development to the area.

ACTION: Failed 6-6 (AH voting NO)

Amendment 3 was to cut $300K from several projects: Riverwalk Plaza, Tenant Rights Education, Jefferson Blvd. Median Repairs, and to use that money to provide major maintenance to city facilities in CDBG-eligible areas. After reviewing these projects, they seemed less essential than improving some of the recreation centers in CDBG areas (fixing leaking roofs, air-conditioning, etc.).

ACTION: Passed 10-1 (AH voting YES)