‘Casita triste’ art project spotlights lack of affordable housing

Photo courtesy of Giovanni Valderas

A new art project from Oak Cliff-based artist Giovanni Valderas features cute little piñata houses.

While the works themselves are adorable, Valderas intends for them to shine a light on the city’s lack of affordable housing and the people being displaced by our neighborhood’s rapid redevelopment.

Valderas is known for his guerrilla art projects that utilize traditional piñata techniques and are emblazoned with slogans such as “quien manda?” or “who rules?”

“It’s time to wake up and be engaged and involved with the world,” Valderas told the Advocate last year. “Who does run this town? Is it us, or is it them?”

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This new project is called “casita triste,” or “little sad house.” The piñatas are meant to resemble the often brightly painted Oak Cliff cottages that have housed Latinos for generations.

“Today, these vibrant neighborhoods are rapidly disappearing and being replaced by luxury condominiums and apartments which are often subsidized by city tax dollars,” Valderas states in a media release. “These new living spaces often attract more affluent ‘lifestyle renters’ while displacing existing working class families.”

While renters are being displaced from North Oak Cliff, the city of Dallas offers a dearth of affordable housing. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is investigating the city after it was discovered that they cannot account for $29.9 million (and possibly much more) in federal funds that should’ve gone toward affordable housing.

The project, which is focused on the Bishop Arts area, started on Dec. 24. Valderas asks that supporters send a postcard to Mayor Mike Rawlings reading “All I want for Christmas is affordable housing.”

Photo courtesy of Giovanni Valderas
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