HUD complaint filed over Dallas’ ‘Shingle Mountain’

Advocates say city’s industrial zoning policies violate Fair Housing Act

Marsha Jackson with Shingle Mountain
Marsha Jackson with Shingle Mountain (Getty)

A coalition of housing advocacy groups have filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, accusing the city of Dallas of discriminatory zoning practices.

The complaint filed Thursday alleges that Dallas’ industrial zoning policies and practices violate the Fair Housing Act by effectively barring Black and Hispanic residents from acquiring loans to buy or make repairs to homes, according to the Dallas Morning News, which said the city did not respond to several requests for comment.

In the complaint, three groups — the Floral Farms Neighbors United/Vecinos Unidos Association, the Joppa Environmental Health Project and the Coalition for Neighborhood Self-Determination — are asking HUD to investigate allegedly “severe and statistically significant” industrial zoning practices by the city and their discriminatory impact. Dallas has reportedly imposed heavy industrial zoning next to 49 Black and Hispanic neighborhoods with only one 50 percent white neighborhood next to industrial zoning, according to the complaint.

Marsha Jackson, the co-chair of Neighbors United/Vecinos Unidos, lived next to the notorious “Shingle Mountain” illegal dump and still lives next to heavy industrial zoning in the Floral Farms housing development.

“The city of Dallas needs to be put on notice, and they need to start being fair to the residents,” Jackson said. “It doesn’t make any difference what color you are, but they need to make sure they are treating all of us equally and quit playing the favoritism if you don’t have as much money as the people over on the north side of town.”

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“Shingle Mountain” is the name The Washington Post gave in 2020 to the towering pile of discarded roofing shingles stretching more than a city block near Jackson’s home. The newspaper reported that for more than a century that area in southern Dallas had been zoned for “everything white citizens didn’t want in their neighborhoods: industrial rail yards, chemical plants, concrete mixing facilities, warehouses that lure up to 100 diesel trucks per day and a massive landfill.”

“Shingle Mountain wouldn’t have happened if the land next to my home were not zoned heavy industrial,” said Jackson. “The nightmare is ongoing because the property next to my house is still zoned heavy industrial, and is currently being used as an illegal truck storage lot and is permitted for metal scrap and salvage.”

Evelyn Mayo, chair of Downwinders at Risk and a fellow at Paul Quinn College, calls Shingle Mountain a “perfect storm of neglect and racist zoning and land use policy” for Dallas.

Earlier this year,the coalition of advocacy groups asked the city to create an “environmental justice overlay district” to remove industrial zoning and land uses from those areas. However, they claim Dallas isn’t doing enough to create solutions for its Black and Hispanic residents — including in the city’s racial equity plan, which leaders will vote on today.

“The can has been kicked down the road for almost every major plan that the city’s made over the last five years, all culminating in this Forward Dallas land use plan,” Mayo said. “So this is the right moment for us to be asserting this issue as a priority.”

Maddy Sperling