On March 27, Mayor’s Star Council Class Six gathered at Jaycee Recreation Center in District 6, and the topic for the evening was gentrification.

Maureen Locus, Josh Prywes and Robert Weaver assembled panelists that hold different stakes in what gentrification means for the city of Dallas.

Jack Matthews, president of Matthews Southwest, Sandy Rollins, executive director of the Texas Tenants Union, and David Noguera, director of Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization for the City of Dallas represented private, commercial interests, renters, and government respectively. The panel was moderated by Owen Wilson Chavez of BC Analytics.

Chavez began the session by defining gentrification as “where you’re building homes and who is able to move into those homes once they’re completed.”

All panelists touched on the cyclical nature of gentrification, pointing out that redeveloping an area can lead to the current population being entirely priced out.

“It was intriguing to get a better understanding from the panelists' varied points of view, based on their areas of expertise and people served,” said Maureen Locus of her key takeaways from the evening.

“I learned gentrification continues to be a sensitive subject with no clear cut direction to appease everyone involved - from the developer, city, or residents' perspectives,” Maureen continued. “It would behoove citizens, MSC Class Six included, to educate themselves and be more aware of what gentrification is and how it could or would impact them before jumping to conclusions and pointing fingers.”

The tension of the evening’s underlying question was palpable: How can you responsibly gentrify or better an area without displacement?

Robert Weaver saw a communication and knowledge gap for those living in communities that have been or could be affected by gentrification.

“For me, it hardened my desire to educate those who are in communities affected by gentrification on the need to own and invest in their communities if they have a desire to maintain the culture and historical significance of that community past the point of another’s desire to own in that same place as a result of proximity to or being the next hot place to live,” said Robert.

“It also increases my desire to educate the people of those communities to take control of their own education as it is essential to having an understanding deep enough to offset the intentional displacement of those with less means,” Robert added.

The development of the City of Dallas’ first housing policy has been in the drafting stage for months and was presented for the first time on April 5. The contents and final conclusions of that plan will be eagerly anticipated to see what needs it can meet for communities that seek to better their neighborhoods – while still being able to afford to live there.

We’d like to extend a special “thank you” to Jaycee Recreation Center and Carmen’s Mexican Café.