The Housing Authority of the City of Fort Worth was created on January 5, 1938 by the Fort Worth City Council in response to federal legislation (U.S. Housing Act of 1937) that enabled the 45th Texas Legislature (1937) to charge local entities with providing decent, safe and sanitary housing for low to moderate income families and individuals. At that time, the mayor of Fort Worth appointed the first Board of Commissioners. That tradition continues through today as Fort Worth mayors continue to appoint new commissioners to the board as needed.
Ripley Arnold Place and Butler Place were the agency’s first two public housing communities, opening their doors in 1942. In the early 1950s, as public housing began to change from housing for the working class to the long term poor, J.A. Cavile Place was added to the housing authority’s inventory. As housing needs continued to expand, Ripley Arnold and Butler experienced residential additions in 1962 and 1963.
Beginning in the 1971, the housing authority started to purchase properties owned by the private sector. One of the earliest buildings of this type was acquired in 1971. It was an 11-story, former hotel in downtown Fort Worth. The structure was renovated to accommodate 234 units as well as the housing authority offices. That building, known today as Hunter Plaza, has been redeveloped once again through public and private partnerships into a new mixed-income apartment building with 164 units. The development also features 10,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.
The Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 authorized the agency’s Section 8 Program, now known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program. This program was developed by HUD to provide rental subsidies for eligible tenant families (including single persons) residing in privately-owned newly constructed, rehabilitated and existing rental and cooperative apartment projects.
During the ensuing years, the agency was not only serving more clients but, began to address other needs of those being served. Services and classes were added that would clients with acquiring much needed training and support to elevate themselves to a place of self-sufficiency. With the expansion of services came the need for more administrative space. In 1995, the housing authority purchased the former Carver-Hamilton Elementary School building which is adjacent to the Butler Place community and relocated its administrative offices.
With sale of the Ripley Arnold Place in 2001, the agency ushered in a new era with the goal to “Change the Face of Public Housing.” The proceeds from that sale allowed the agency to upgrade as well as add new properties to their housing inventory.
Most recently, the housing authority’s name became Fort Worth Housing Solutions (FWHS). FWHS has evolved with the times to accommodate changes in federal policies and local economics. It has grown from an owned-and-operated property model to an asset management/property development-based business model that allows residents greater housing and training choices. With the introduction of the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program from HUD, the agency will be the largest public housing authority in the state of Texas to convert their entire portfolio to the program and effectively move towards a model that does not include centralized public housing.
Today, Fort Worth Housing Solutions owns 998 public housing units that are being converted to RAD, 2,675 affordable housing units and 665 market-rate units. FWHS also administers over 6,000 Housing Choice Vouchers and operates a homeownership program. In addition, FWHS has over 1,100 units either under construction or in development.