A Dallas attorney is threatening to sue the Dallas Housing Authority under the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act if it doesn’t allow residents of The Bridge to move into permanent supportive housing at Cliff Manor Apartments as planned.
Attorney Mike Daniel of Daniel & Beshara PC wrote a letter to MaryAnn Russ of the housing authority, informing her that his firm would represent homeless people in a discrimination suit if they’re not allowed to move. The letter argues that preventing the move of 18 people from The Bridge to Cliff Manor would be discrimination on the basis of mental illness, which would be illegal under the federal guidelines.
But attorney Scott Griggs, who is president of the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group, says Daniel is “missing the issue.”
Griggs says the question is whether permanent supportive housing, and the combination of mental health and social services that would be required for it, is a legal use for the property under the current zoning.
“We’re not discriminating against the type of person,” he says. “We’re talking about the use of the building.”
And the city has a right to regulate zoning.
A larger issue, Griggs says, is that the city has a plan to create permanent supportive housing for 700 people over the next few years, but it has no policy regarding that type of housing. The city needs some policy to determine how many units should be on one property and how close those units can be to schools, among other considerations such as how to distribute them evenly throughout the city.
District 3 Council member David Neumann is forming a committee of stakeholders to help form such a policy.