The first thing South Dallas resident Latatashia Drake will do when she gets her first home in Mill City is pray.
Shortly thereafter, she will pinch herself to make sure it’s not a dream and cry tears of joy. Drake, who will be a first-generation homeowner, wants the solitude, structure, and freedom of owning her own home.
“The freedom that I can sit on the porch and be myself, and just the smell of a new home,” said Drake, 46.
The Innercity Community Development Corporation, a South Dallas non-profit organization, has been working with South Dallas residents like Drake to expand home ownership and is now building eight townhouses near Spring Ave., across from the his office in the Mill City neighborhood.
ICDC Executive Director Billy Lane said they expect the dirt to fly by the end of this year. Drake is eligible to own one of these townhomes, if she’s willing to wait for construction, according to Lane.
“I’ve always wanted a home,” Drake said. “All my life, I’ve just rented and the problem with renting is that you never really get yours. And I refuse to continue making a landlord rich.
Mill City, a neighborhood in South Dallas, has seen both decay and development in recent decades. The ICDC, founded by former city council member Diane Ragsdale in 1986, has built an office with a dental clinic, a South Dallas health center by Prism Health North Texas, and hundreds of single-family homes in South Dallas.
The townhome project was expected to cost $2 million before the pandemic. However, Lane said they need to reevaluate to take into account the cost increase. The homes themselves aim to cost prospective buyers around $200,000.
The multi-story residences will range between 1,300 and 1,400 square feet with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a garage.
“They look great,” Lane said. “They fit into the existing architecture of the neighborhood. They preserve the neighborhood’s history… We design with quality in mind.”
Lane said the townhouses are a solution they’ve come up with to take advantage of space and increase density.
“We’re trying to be very creative in how we create ownership opportunities, because for us at ICDC, that’s really our focus,” Lane said.
They will be friendly to seniors because the master bedroom will be on the first floor. Lane said that about 40% of the inquiries the company is receiving about property come from people over the age of 55 who have never owned a home.
Drake has been disabled since her college years when she hurt her leg, and now mobility is difficult. Having a home that welcomes her is a priority.
“They make it convenient for me,” she said. “… Houses, they are accommodating. They don’t discriminate.”
Drake will be the first member of her family to own a home, a fact she is proud of. For her, ownership means that she made it and she can show her child that creating a better life is possible. Drake said she’s ready to own her own home.
“I strive only for the best. And it seems that at 46, I’ve been struggling a little too long,” Drake said.