Elderly Friendly Apartments in Jubilee Park Welcome First Round of Residents in the New Year

December 8, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Katie Day

Drawing of one of the elder apartment buildings now under construction in Jubilee Park. (Photo courtesy of Jubilee Park)

Berma Dye has lived in her home on Gurley Avenue in South Dallas for more than 20 years. The small, white paneled house, once surrounded by a neighborhood of similar residences, now sits in the midst of a big construction project in Jubilee Park.

Ms. Dye won’t be in her house for long. Soon she will move into a fully loaded elderly-friendly apartment thanks to the construction going on around her.

“I’m very excited,” said Dye, who will welcome a new group of neighbors just down the street in January, something she looks forward to now that her five children are grown and moved out.

Since June 2011, construction has been underway to line Gurley Avenue with 12 elderly-friendly apartments, located across from the Walt-Humann-T. Boone Pickens Community Resource Center. Applications are now being accepted for a first round of potential residents to move in in January.

John Lira, Director of Property Management at Dallas City Homes, has witnessed Mrs. Dye’s excitement leading up to her move.

“She goes constantly to look at it and see the progress,” he said.

Dallas City Homes is a non-profit community development organization that provides affordable housing for low-income households. They partner with local organizations, businesses, and national entities to support and create better communities in Dallas. The first six apartments will be ready at the beginning of 2012, and the second six by April of 2012. According to Lira, safety is key and precautions have been taken to ensure the new residents a hazard-free move in.

“We want all the residents to move into a safe environment without any nails or construction debris,” he said.

The one bedroom, one-bathroom homes pair residents two-per-unit, with one unit on top and the second unit located on the bottom floor. Each is complete with appliances, including washer and dryers, refrigerators, and pre-wired alarm systems, making them ideal for older residents. Rent will be $425 per month plus electric, according to the press release issued by Dallas City Homes, and the apartments will be reserved on a first-come, first-serve, basis.

Applications can be found here.

While the applications require the minimum age of 55 years old, Lira says the majority of the response has been from a much older group.

“Most are between the ages of 60 and 70,” he said. “We have four right now between 75 and 80 years old.”

The Jubilee Apartments will allow older residents to live a more independent, active, lifestyle with activities planned by Dallas City Homes to be offered in the community center across the street.
Mrs. Dye’s old home will be replaced by a child development center, which will sit right behind the Jubilee Center and contribute to the communities’ goal of facilitating the needs of all their residents, from the young to the elderly.

Jubilee Park is much more than a street of new apartments. It’s a community run by passionate individuals dedicated to protect, feed, and above all, educate those who reside there.

Ben Leal, Executive Director at the Jubilee Park & Community center, is one of these passionate leaders.

“We strive to cover everything from housing, employment, healthcare, and education,” he said.

In addition to the elderly-friendly apartments, The 62-block area features amenities like the 21,000 square foot community center and David’s place, a Head Start program for children before they transfer to the O.M. Roberts Elementary School. All the programs in Jubilee Park put a strong emphasis on education.

“We believe that education is the foundation of everything that we do,” says Leal.

Leal recognizes the obstacles that come with effectively reaching and educating the youth in the community, which is why he and the other members of the Jubilee Park team take a comprehensive approach to everything they do.

“The student can’t be successful if they’re hungry, and the student can’t be successful if they’re unsafe,” he said.

By teaming up with other organizations in Dallas, Jubilee Park has addressed these issues. Through a partnership with the Dallas police department, there has been a 64percent reduction in crime in the area, according to Leal.

Lira says plans are also underway to cut down on traffic flow through Gurley Avenue.

“It will be made down to one lane in a year or so,” he said, “which will make the street a much safer, quieter place to live.”

Crossroad to Learning : An SMU Teacher’s Compassion For The Community

May 2, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Jordan Jennings

One of Southern Methodist University’s faculty members is taking inner-city education and progression into his own hands.

When he is not teaching, Dr. Ken Springer spends his time volunteering at non-profit organizations such as Cornerstone Crossroads Academy, Frazier Courts, Dallas Bethlehem Center, Jubilee Park, Champions of Hope and several Boys and Girls clubs.

Dr. Ken Springer, a famous face in the SMU Department of Teaching and Learning, is known for his big heart and busy schedule. He currently serves as chair of the SMU Institutional Review Board, is an active researcher and publisher of 60 scientific publications and teachers three classes a year, including educational psychology for undergraduates and a research methods course for master’s candidates.

Springer’s most recent study focuses on looking at predictors of grades among kids from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

“A lot of families in South Dallas are not aware of some of the resources available to them,” Springer said. “Kids growing up in poverty should have an opportunity to work their way out, if that is what they choose to do.”

One particular organization, Cornerstone Crossroads Academy is a nonprofit ministry that embraces, encourages and educates at-risk students in South Dallas.

“We know that intelligence and book smarts are key factors, as well as things like a student’s attitude toward school, the kind of guidance they get from their parents, parental discipline, the quality of a home environment,” Springer said. “There is a huge difference between being poor and growing in a family where one or more parents has a constant presence, versus some CCA kids who are technically homeless periods of time.”

CCA students attend free, but all students are required to serve 100 hours of community service a year.

Currently 12 students between the ages of 15 and 18 attend CCA, all of whom have previously attended public school and have dropped out due to bad behavior, legal issues or other reasons. Parole officers have referred most attendees. CCA is designed especially for these trauma students, providing them with a second chance to succeed.

Monday to Friday the eager 12 pack into a small building located on Cornerstone Baptist Church property. There the students focus primarily on enhancing math, science, English and social studies skills.

“CCA is a very good environment, it’s a community,” said Springer.

The school places emphasis on individual learning. Teachers work diligently to help students graduate, prepare for GED tests and encourage them to continue onto college.

Nine of the 12 students hope to graduate this year. Of these, one is on bed rest and another living in his second foster care home this academic school year. One is occasionally homeless.

Principal Dr. Kristi Lichtenberg reminds her students that despite their circumstances they can achieve their goals.

“You have a purpose, you’re needed and you matter,” Lichtenberg said.

Springer has kindly donated his time assessing academic levels and providing volunteers. He also works to help various nonprofit agencies expand on the quality of their service and impact they have on families.

According to Springer, several of the CCA students are right where they should be. One student even hopes to one day attend SMU.

Many of Springer’s students at SMU share the same passion for helping others. Several work along side Springer and Lichtenberg, to help research and assist those less fortunate.

“SMU students have really been a big help, especially when it comes to tutoring our students,” Lichtenberg said.

Cecilia Joslin, a freshman psychology major, has volunteered at CCA several times.

“You can tell the kids really benefit from having older college students around,” Joslin said. “In a way it reminds them that they too have what it takes to go to college someday.”

Other SMU students like Joslin help at CCA by organizing birthday parties, tutoring and organizing recreational activities.

“Volunteering at CCA is a great reminder that having an opportunity to get a good education is something to be cherished,” Joslin said.

If you are interested in helping CCA students, visit their site here.