Wilton Hollins on Central Dallas Minstries

I was blessed to meet Mr. Wilton Hollins 8 years ago when he was the director of Friendship-West's J.C. Holmes Male Chorus.  Our subsequent friendship led to a collaboration that we called "Buy It Out", where we advocated cooperative economics in the African-American community through a selective buying program.

Wilton is Human Resources Director at Value Options, and most recently served as Minster of Music at the historic Hamilton Park United Methodist Church.  He continues to be a blessing to the community, and is now working with Larry James and Central Dallas Ministries (CDM).  I talked with Wilton about his work with CDM. 

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DSB:     Wilton for those who may not be familiar with Central Dallas Ministries, how would you describe the group. 

WH:       CDM is a community development-social justice ministry dedicated to addressing issues related to poverty: including hunger, health, housing, law, children's education and workforce development.  We want a strong safe supportive community that allows all of its residents to achieve their full potential. 

DSB:     What is your role with Central Dallas Ministries? 

WH:      I currently serve on the Board of Directors for Central Dallas Ministries.  I was however recently elected by the board to serve on its Executive Committee. 

DSB:     What has been your experience so far working with CDM President and CEO Larry James?

WH:     Working with Larry James has been a rewarding experience.  He truly has a tireless passion for the work of CDM.  This passion coupled with his business acumen, vision, and spiritual convictions has led to the success of ministry.   

DSB:     Tell me about the CityWalk @ Akard project 

WH:     The CityWalk @ Akard project at 511 N. Akard is being developed to house 209 units of high-quality, very affordable housing which will include about 100 units for formerly homeless individuals and 100 units for low-income individuals, with an additional 9 units at market rate.  This project will make a positive contribution to Downtown Dallas in three major ways: 

1.  City Walk @ Akard will increase the diversity of the downtown population by providing safe, attractive and affordable housing for people of modest incomes to live downtown.  No vibrant city can be composed entirely of people currently in the upper income bracket – and while the City of Dallas is seeing notable success in attracting downtown residents, there are as of yet few dwellings downtown affordable to those with less than the median income. 

2.  Central Dallas CDC believes that at least part of the reason some people are homeless is because of a lack of attractive, safe, appropriately located apartments at a reasonable cost.  For that reason, City Walk @ Akard will concentrate on providing safe and attractive housing at a low cost in downtown Dallas. 

3.  Each new building renovated for people to live in Downtown Dallas increases the energy of downtown and makes it more feasible for new businesses and services to locate in the downtown area. 

DSB:     Opponents of the project contend that 511 Akard will be a haven for junkies and convicts, driving down surrounding property values.  How would you address those concerns? 

WH:     City Walk is not a homeless shelter.  It’s not transitional housing, and it’s not a social service center.  Criminal background checks will be conducted on all tenets.  I agree with Councilman Leo Chaney when he stated that we shouldn’t make judgments based on a residents’ economic status.  We shouldn’t get paranoid because people are poor.  The City of Dallas will be allowed to approve a security plan, the choice of property management, and the retailers expected to move into the bottom floor. 

DSB:     Are there plans for similar developments in the future? 

WH:      There are plans for other developments throughout the city to address those in need of services.

DSB:     Thanks Wilton for this enlightenging information.

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