Community-stabilizing reconstruction of family-owned homes in collaboration with resident owners

Congo Street Initiative rehabilitated five deteriorating owner-occupied houses and constructed a sixth to stabilize home ownership for families in East Dallas. The houses were rebuilt by the city with design support from bcWORKSHOP (BCW), a Dallas-based nonprofit community design center. All six of the Jubilee Park homes are LEED Gold or Platinum certified with solar panels and solar thermal systems. Now recognized as Dallas’ first “green street” and a model affordable housing renovation, the project has garnered local and national awards and sparked new investment in Jubilee and the adjoining Dolphin Heights neighborhood.

The project provides a different way of thinking about community development, incorporating education and participation in a meaningful way.

2013 Selection Committee

BCW began working with Jubilee Park residents in 2008 as part of a project with University of Texas Arlington architecture students, who chose Jubilee Park as the focus of their urban neighborhood project. The entire street had been targeted for demolition and redevelopment by the city, and the project emerged from a desire to stabilize home ownership for the families living in the houses, many of whom had occupied their homes for generations. BCW and the students began to explore ways to begin work without displacing or dismantling the community during construction. The solution was to build the sixth house or “holding house” that provided temporary housing while each home was being rebuilt. Meanwhile, students and BCW staff worked with each family to develop plans for the renovation of their home.  The striking redesign of the modest 1920s homes has challenged assumptions about what affordable housing looks like and the feasibility of constructing energy-efficient, LEED-certified homes that are also affordable.