As Dallas’ population continues to grow, the influx of new residents has led to changes within many neighborhoods. But for one community in the city’s southern sector, change has not been embraced by all.
The Guardian, a British-owned newspaper and media website, recently published a report on the effects of gentrification in Oak Cliff, specifically in the area comprising the 75208 ZIP code.
Here are three takeaways from The Guardian’s Sept. 11 report:
‘Dallas’s best-kept secret’
A once predominately Black and Hispanic area is seeing a demographic shift. The 75208 ZIP code, which includes the Bishop Arts District and Winnetka Heights, is currently 71% Latino, 24% white and 3% Black, according to The Guardian’s report. Between 2010 and 2014, the white population increased by 15%, while the Black population decreased by 14%.
North Oak Cliff’s reputation as an up-and-coming neighborhood has inevitably led to a rise in property values, forcing many longtime residents to relocate to surrounding communities.
“The Bishop Arts District in 2001 was sleepy. There were a handful of spots, but it was not remotely the entertainment destination it is today,” Rob Shearer, a 20-year Oak Cliff resident told The Guardian.
Two Oak Cliffs
Encompassing several ZIP codes, Oak Cliff’s residents vary in socio-economic status.
As certain parts of the neighborhood such as Bishop Arts and Winnetka Heights encounter gentrification at a more rapid pace, other areas are being excluded from any potential positives that come from it.
South Oak Cliff and nearby communities, for example, are considered food deserts, while north Oak Cliff has several grocery stores. Community leaders have long pushed for brand-name grocers to establish locations in South Dallas.
South Oak Cliff’s 75216 ZIP code has an average household income of $28,000, according to The Guardian’s report. North Oak Cliff, meanwhile has a median income of $63,000.
“When people reference Oak Cliff, you really have to figure out what part they’re talking about, because while it’s all one neighborhood, it looks very different depending on what part you’re in,” For Oak Cliff development associate Cimajie Best told The Guardian.
Not going anywhere
With gentrification displacing longtime locals out and threatening the culture of vulnerable communities, residents are fighting to preserve their neighborhoods.
“I see my role now as one of speaking out against the perceived inevitability of gentrification and displacement. So many that are either actively participating in gentrification, or passively benefiting from it, believe it will happen regardless of our actions,” Shearer said.
Despite persistent offers from eager investors and developers, homeowners such as Best’s grandmother have no intentions to sell.
“This has been our community, our neighborhood for over 50 years,” Best said.
Dallas Council member Chad West, whose district includes the 75208 ZIP code, launched the West Oak Cliff Area Planning initiative last year to support neighborhood preservation.