Ryanwood – Handley Community Meeting with Police, City, Housing
East Fort Worth communities surrounding Ryanwood and Handley came together with Police and local leaders to discuss the effects affordable housing might make on a community. The meeting with Q & A lasted 2 hours. Attendees were engaged the entire time.
The myth that affordable housing causes problems was dispelled in exchange for the thought that responsible housing owners can and will make for positive community improvement. Though the subjects of crime from multiple housing was a big issue, the examples of three units in particular, Palm Tree, Quail Ridge and Handley Oaks apartments were discussed. These examples of how communication and cooperation between responsible owners, City Police, Code Officers and community leaders can make positive impact on the community.
Police Captain Michael A. Shedd and Allen Speed answered a lot of questions, and told ofthe Police Department’s plans to improve these areas.
Capt. Shedd had these additional comments after the meeting:
“During the meeting, it came to my attention that we might have an opportunity to enforce our Crime Free Multi-housing ordinance. Officer Speed mentioned that there were some apartment communities that were not in compliance but we weren’t issuing citations. Those fines could be up to $2000 each day. Following the meeting, I approached Officer Speed and asked him for a list of apartments that weren’t in compliance.
From my perspective, it isn’t fair to the apartment communities that are in compliance, if we aren’t enforcing the ordinance. Furthermore, it isn’t fair to the community that wanted the ordinance in the first place.
A second point I took away from the meeting was there might be a possibility to enlist volunteers to improve the look of the various apartment communities in our neighborhoods. A fresh coat of paint, a clean parking lot, trimmed bushes, and freshly painted lines for parking will go a long way towards improving the look and might help the property owners increase their rent. Increased rents might translate into improved clientele. I hope to bring this up with my Economic Development Committee and develop strategies. My emphasis will be on locally owned properties.
Finally, I think there is an opportunity to partner with Fort Worth and Tarrant County Housing. They mentioned the good neighbor classes for those with vouchers. Following the meeting, I met with Ms. Mitchell and she extended an offer to allow me to send an officer to those classes to offer training on Code Blue. That could be a unique recruiting opportunity, and allow us to engage tenants in our efforts to deter crime.
In that way, they become more part of the community. It might also be beneficial to approach the apartment communities about hosting some sort of “welcome to the community” event to allow members of the various neighborhood associations to introduce themselves and extend an invitation to become part of their community.”
Time was spent discussing the fact that irresponsible apartment owners are negatively impacting the area with crime, code issues and deflating property values. Along with business owners who allow activities with crime, drugs, gaming on their properties is making our lives miserable.
As for solutions, I can not say they were the total outcome, yet we believe the City listened and people saw the faces of leaders with Housing, Police and Code willing to work together as a unit.
Can we, will we, make a difference, remains to be seen, but 50 people came together to listen and communicate. With 5 days of a holiday weekend being the time frame where this meeting was planned the organizers feel we had a tremendous response of City, State, Federal and Community in attendance.
Flora Brewer of Palm Tree Apartments has a great example of what dedication, determination and work can accomplish. The complex is an inspiration to those who look into what is happening there. She took Palm Tree Apts., 1965 from failing and loosing money, with multiple violations, to a profitable business. 100 % section 8 residents, she has 80% occupancy, ZERO violations.
Eric Vodicka from the Neighborhood Services Department has been communicating with the Asssociation presidents and has detailed the plan going forward:
For the Community
Engagement portion of our Assessment of Fair Housing, the City has opted to hold Public Meetings in each Council District through the months of July and August. We were initially attempting to use local community group meetings as a platform for these events, but there were quite a lot of issues with facilitating the amount of time and space required for an event of this nature. Based off of the interest expressed by many of the Councilmembers in this process, we have opted to do these events at community centers and other local venues in each of the districts.
With that said, we strongly encourage each of you to reach out to your community groups and plan to attend and participate in this process. This is an opportunity to allow the community members to have an intricate part in the Affordable Housing planning process, and gain a better understanding of what the City aims to achieve, and the different roles associated with groups throughout the City. The agenda of the meeting is still being designed with our partners in the process, Fort Worth Housing Solutions and UTA. Once I have a completed agenda, it will be posted with the public meeting notice for each district.
This event is still in the planning process, with all the details currently being worked out; but if you have questions, feel free to contact me directly and I will be happy to help!
Below are the scheduled dates and times for our Community Outreach Events for each Council District:
Northside Community Center; Senior Facility room 10-Aug, 7:00-9:00 PM
District 3: CM Byrd, Como Community Center; Kids Café room, 14-Aug, 7:00-9:00 PM
District 4: CM Moon
North Park YMCA; Multi-purpose room, 1-Aug 7:00-9:00 PM
District 5: CM Bivens
MLK Community Center: Community room
20-Jul, 7:00-9:00 PM
District 6: CM Jordan
Chisholm Trail Community Center;
12-Jul, 7:00-9:00 PM
District 7: CM Shingleton
Eaton High school (Northwest ISD);
Student Union room
7-Aug, 7:00-9:00 PM
UNTHSC; MET room 109-1011
8-Aug, 7:00-9:00 PM
District 8: CM Gray
Bethlehem Center; Gym
31-July @ 7:00-9:00 PM
District 9: CM Zadeh
Worth Heights Community center;
Activity Room 4
3-Aug, 7:00PM-9:00 PM
Eric Vodicka, Planner
Neighborhood Service Department
Observations from some of the attenders:
“I thought it was interesting to learn that the apartments with the most crime do not have any residents with section 8 assistance. Maybe if this is widely known, it can change the way people look at section 8 vouchers.”
“Positive, working owner templates and models should be used to drive improvements at failing apartments. A multitude of regs and statutes are on the books to block irresponsible apartment owners. Section 8 requirements have some of the most demanding rules. A felony will get you evicted. Section 8 doesn’t equal crummy apartment complex. In fact Section 8 apartments are among the most successful and well run. ”
“I felt encouraged and appreciative that so many city staff, police officers, and community members were present at this meeting. It is a first step toward positive change for neighborhoods impacted by neglectful and irresponsible owners and management of Multi family properties. As a community I hope that we continue to support our successful and conscientious multi family property owners such as Mel Ashton of Handley Oaks.”
One person said “this is the most productive meeting on the subject I have attended, something I thought I would have have found at one of the other meetings”.
If you were not aware of the meeting, the neighborhood association presidents each said “Join your neighborhood association. Get your name on the official neighborhood mailing list. Get involved!”
Neighborhood Associations are the first rung in the city leadership ladder. The Mayor and City Council members personally know the NA presidents in their districts, and they do listen to what comes from these organizations. Citizen participation gets results.