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Have you ever thought of buying a condo or renting an apartment in downtown Dallas? Did you just roll your eyes and say, “That’s crazy talk!” because you know that buying a condo or renting in downtown is nearly impossible for all but a few these days?

The housing market has seen many crises, the most notable being the downfall of affordable housing for low-income households over the past few decades. With new apartment construction booming in America’s metros the median property price is rising. And rapidly. The current real estate market seems to uphold the motto “out with the old in the new” as older, more affordable, apartments are being demolished and replaced with new construction or upgraded to rent for considerably more. So if the majority middle class can gaff at the thought of purchasing a downtown condo in the newest skyrise, imagine the housing options available for low-income families.

This is a true housing crisis that is causing many to wonder what our next move should be to insure low-income families can find an affordable place to live. Can we strategically change the market for the better so that low-income families can find affordable rental housing near the downtown core? Even in the case that low-income families can afford to buy or rent real estate, are these complexes renovated and up-to-date to meet today’s housing standards?

However, there is an accidental hero amongst Dallas that works quietly to help victims of the affordable housing crisis. Though he does not wear a red cape, Ruel Hamilton’s business efforts yield heroic effects as he dedicates his career to providing housing options to Dallas families.

Ruel HamiltonIn 1987, Hamilton opened AmeriSouth Realty so that he could initially provide fee management for both commercial and multi-family apartment communities. With a background in finance, treasury functions, real estate loans and real estate investments, Hamilton successfully worked with properties owned by various savings and loans, FDIC and RTC agencies.

However, he noticed the looming issue of a lack of affordable housing in his local area as many of the Rent Restricted apartment complexes financed by HUD in the late 60’s and early 70’s saw their rent restrictions expire. Perfectly good properties in need of a little TLC were being bulldozed and replaced with brand new, more expensive properties. He also noticed housing being upgraded to the point that rents became so high they were no longer affordable.

This issue of lack of affordable housing for low-income families is still a key discussion across the U.S.. According to the U.S Department of Housing and Development, there are 12 million households that currently hold ownership of a home and are said to pay more than 50 percent of their annual overall income to housing costs. With that being said, households that spend 30 percent or more towards their housing payment, may have difficulty catering to other family necessities.

As a Dallas-native, Hamilton’s initial interest in this market was fueled by capitalism. He strategically identified an opportunity to profitably rectify the housing issue on the local level and fill the gap in the housing market. So, in 1994, he had a brilliant idea: instead of watching housing complexes get demolished, why not give them new life?

And with that, Hamilton adjusted his sails and changed the course of business for AmeriSouth Realty.

With a focus on creating affordable housing for low-income families in his hometown of Dallas, Hamilton delved into the business of saving multi-family housing developments from being torn down. From there, his team rehabilitates and renovates the properties, thus turning them into housing opportunities for low-income families. How it started was this: Hamilton and his team bought up HUD complexes that were losing their rent restrictions and worked to update them and get them up to code. Next they sold them for a reasonable profit while also ensuring increased rent was not put upon the tenants. Thus, preserving affordable housing opportunities.

Our country’s renters are a diverse population, spanning generations and income types. And their existence is growing as they either choose not to buy or can’t afford to buy property. Within the past decade alone, the rental market has increased by 9 million households to nearly 43 million.

As of today, Hamilton currently owns and operates 2,500 multi-family units in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but overall has owned and rehabbed 10,000 total units in Texas. No doubt, giving new life to these old, often rundown, complexes does a lot of good for Dallas residents. Old housing properties are revitalized to meet today’s housing expectations, low-income families are able to afford nice housing with reasonable rent, and the housing market of Dallas has affordable options to provide its residents.

“Everyone deserves a good place to live, despite their income level,” explained Hamilton. “When we are able to revitalize an aging apartment complex we are also providing a platform for helping our residents change their lives in a positive way which eventually spreads through the community.”


 

About the Author:

Lacy RushinLacy is an independent journalist passionate about marketing strategy, branding trends and entrepreneurial stories. When she’s not writing about companies and campaigns that interest her, she helps businesses put communications strategies in place and strengthen their brand image. Based in Austin, Texas, Lacy spends her free time enjoying the outdoors, debating on the best breakfast tacos, and Instagram-ing her backyard chickens.

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