Dallas Housing Shortage Forces Strangers to Share Living Space
Dallas residents Hector Hernandez and Alecia Sanchez have been forced to live together as roommates in a small duplex due to financial difficulties caused by gentrification in the city. Hernandez, aged 49, and Sanchez, aged 70, previously lived in affordable apartments in Oak Cliff before being driven out by rising rental costs. They both suffer from physical disabilities and are unable to work, relying on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments as their sole source of income. After finding themselves with nowhere to live, they now share a single room, bathroom, and kitchen for around $1,500 per month.
The prospects for Hernandez and Sanchez are uncertain as they struggle to make ends meet. With more than half their income going towards rental costs, they worry about how long they can sustain their living arrangements as housing prices continue to rise. Desperate for assistance, they’ve applied for housing vouchers from both the Dallas Housing Authority and Housing First, but are yet to receive a response. The demand for vouchers is high, and resources are limited, leaving Hernandez pessimistic about his prospects.
Their situation is typical of those living on the economic margins in Dallas, where affordable housing is scarce, and the places that are available are likely to be in bad shape or crime-ridden neighbourhoods. Options like boarding homes, while they offer refuge for those down on their luck, often provide terrible living conditions. Recent city efforts to regulate boarding homes could limit options even further. Hernandez and Sanchez’s plight has progressed to the point where they may be forced to leave their lifelong city of Dallas.
Despite their hardships, Hernandez and Sanchez have found hope in a group called Fighting Homelessness and its founder, Lisa Marshall, who have been assisting them in achieving secure housing. After being priced out of their separate apartments, the duo met via volunteers with Fighting Homelessness, who moved their belongings into the duplex they now share on November 17. Previously, Sanchez would not have imagined living under the same roof as Hernandez, but in the months that followed, they came to know each other and find comfort in their shared situation.
However, their shared living arrangement is far from ideal. Hernandez and Sanchez share a twin mattress each, and little privacy, leading them to consider buying a divider for their room. Nevertheless, they’re grateful to have a laundry room in their new accommodation, as laundry was a great challenge at the group home where they previously resided. While they’re happy with their new space, the pair cannot ignore the realities of their situation and feel uncertain about the future. The situation is not sustainable in the long term and affordable housing is becoming increasingly scarce.