Less than three months have passed since residents in Dallas City Council District 10 rang in the new year, and in that time, three homicides, 349 assaults, and 274 thefts have occurred in the Lake Highlands area.
The crime rates in almost all categories for District 10 are lower today than they were at this time last year. Property crimes have dropped 16 percent and crimes against persons have dropped 20 percent, according to the City of Dallas crime statistics dashboard. An overall 18 percent decrease in crime was reported in District 10 year-to-date.
But residents and candidates vying for the District 10 Dallas City Council seat are taking a close look at the proposed influx of affordable housing that some say could result in a D10 crime spike.
District 10 Councilman Adam McGough is not seeking re-election in May due to term limits. Four candidates are vying for the District 10 seat: Sirrano Keith Baldeo, Brian Hasenbauer, Kathy Stewart, and Chris Carter.
Hasenbauer, a former community development commissioner, said residents are scared of concentrated areas of poverty, a sentiment heard at a recent neighborhood meeting on the proposed Cypress Creek at Forest Lane development.
“Affordable housing has a lot of misconceptions, and one of them is that affordable housing development today is similar to past projects where 100 percent of the units are for those on housing vouchers or need public assistance,” Hasenbauer told CandysDirt.com. “This is no longer true, and most affordable housing units are for those with jobs such as teachers, police officers, bus drivers, and hard-working citizens who are just trying to make ends meet.”
The candidate said he supports multi-family housing projects that include 40 percent or less “affordable” units “to ensure neighborhood support and to provide for a more balanced income distribution.”
Housing And Crime in Lake Highlands
District 10 is home to Town Creek, where residents say they haven’t had a violent crime reported in more than two years. The 696-home Moss Farm development touts safety as a top priority. The under-construction Goose at White Rock Valley development will feature 36 energy-efficient homes in the $700,000s.
Homeowners of late have been celebrating a high school basketball team that just earned a state title. Youth primarily attend Richardson ISD schools, which earned a B rating from the Texas Education Agency.
So it’s clear that District 10 isn’t generally considered a hotspot for criminal activity, although one property on the north side of Vantage Point Drive near Greenville Avenue, dubbed “Hotel from Hell” by neighbors, comes to mind when reviewing high-profile illegal activity in Northeast Dallas.
Dallas Police Lt. Brian Payne told residents at an October community meeting that numerous arrests for murder, drug trafficking, sex crimes, and stolen vehicles were made at the hotel, which at the time was operating as an Extended Stay America. The FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency were involved, and at least two former hotel employees were sent to federal prison.
Since that time, police have reported that the site is mostly vacant and crime has been significantly reduced or eliminated.
A proposal to repurpose the property into voucher-based affordable housing with wraparound services is slated to go before the city council in May.
Crime in Low-Income Housing Developments
Attorney Mark Melton of the Dallas Eviction Advocacy Center and representatives of the DHA (formerly Dallas Housing Authority) have told CandysDirt.com that voucher-holders typically make great tenants because they’re employed and want to do whatever it takes to keep their vouchers intact.
Not everyone agrees.
Chris Carter, who is running for the District 10 city council seat in May, said he is fighting not only to defer but stop the rezoning that would allow affordable housing at the Extended Stay America site. Carter alleges it’s for “homeless housing,” and said proponents of the rezoning have not properly engaged surrounding business owners and residents.
Lt. Payne of the Dallas Police Department pointed out in the October community meeting that crime reports can trend high in multi-family developments.
“We have issues no matter what occurs here,” Payne said of the hotel property last year. “If it stays extended-stay, we’ll have one type of crime. If it becomes an apartment complex, we’ll have a different type of crime. When you have a whole bunch of people, unfortunately, some of those people are going to commit crimes.”
District 10 City Council candidate Sirrano Keith Baldeo had some fighting words on his Facebook page for Carter’s plan to increase police officer salaries by 30 percent but appears to agree that low-income housing developments won’t help the District 10 crime rate.
“They will never put this project in Lake Highlands because it [would outrage] that community because they know better,” Baldeo commented on a CandysDirt.com report on the proposed Cypress Creek at Forest Lane project. “This project is dumped in the minority community because they do not have the power or resources to fight it. [There] is no economic growth or businesses to support this project. It will overcrowd the area, [strain] the resources in District 10, and put an undue burden on an already-stressed area. Crime is at its highest in that area, so dumping more poverty housing serves what purpose? We need to control the overflow we already have in District 10, not [dump] more poverty housing, disguised as affordable housing.”
Comparison to Other Districts
The council district with the highest crime rate last year was District 2, with 13,896 reported crimes. District 2 includes the Deep Ellum entertainment district, where two people were killed in a shooting outside Bitter End bar March 15.
District 10 came in eighth of the 14th districts, with 6,632 reported crimes last year. The district with the lowest number of reported crimes in 2022 was District 12, with 4,063 reported crimes.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn hailed the success of the Dallas Police Department in reducing violent crime over the past two years, calling the city a model for governance in a March 1 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
“I’m proud of the good work that the chief has done in the Dallas Police Department along with the mayor and the city council there in Dallas to promote smart policing and public safety,” Cornyn said.
But as candidates gear up for the May 6 election, crime and police staffing have become hot topics.
D10 candidate Hasenbauer said the city needs to aggressively recruit new police officers and firefighters, create a new training facility at the University of North Texas Dallas, and stabilize the police and fire pension fund.
“We also need to focus on proper lighting in residential neighborhoods, enhancing and supporting neighborhood crime reduction programs through [Volunteers in Patrol] programs, and ensuring that our schools are safe with [school resource officers] at every campus,” Hasenbauer said.
We reached out to District 10 candidate Kathy Stewart for comment on this report and did not receive a response by deadline. Stewart has been endorsed by current District 10 Councilman McGough.
Editor’s Note: This is the second installment in our series on neighborhood crime by Dallas City Council district. Have you been the victim of a crime in a Dallas neighborhood or shopping center? Let us know about your experience at [email protected]