Production & Choice for Infill Housing

See more posts about AIM for Dallas and our work in Dallas

As Dallas continues to see new investment and new housing opportunities, it is critical that affordable options remain available or are created throughout the city, and that the local development community have the capacity to deliver those options.

In September, 2014, [bc] hosted Lab #1 of AIM for Dallas. The lab brought a  group of local, regional and national practitioners and experts together to discuss and prioritize the challenges currently inhibiting affordable infill housing production. The group reconvened a second time to determine deliverable solutions for AIM for Dallas goals, discuss housing markets and development cycles as they relate to affordable infill, and apply these goals and market-thinking to realistic development scenarios in Dallas.

Over the course of the fall, [bc] researched the challenges to affordable infill housing that were listed and prioritized at September, 2014’s Lab #1. From this research, [bc] developed case studies exploring solutions to similar challenges from cities around the country. These case studies evolved into a set of goals for AIM for Dallas that would result in deliverable products.

In December, [bc] hosted a webinar where AIM for Dallas’s advisors gave feedback on, modified and confirmed the initiative’s goals.

At Lab #2, advisors suggested deliverables and frameworks for pursuing these goals. Collaboration and information sharing was a common theme across the goals listed. Another theme that emerged was the need for targeted, coordinated neighborhood investments to ensure the most efficient impact. This idea led into a dialogue about the value of market-based awareness in affordable infill delivery. In the final exercise, advisors were divided into four groups with each group piecing together a development plan for a real vacant site within the city, including consideration of market trends in each site’s neighborhood, site configuration and location, and community engagement.

Moving forward, AIM for Dallas will focus on distilling the large set of goals and solutions into five action items, as part of a proposed collaborative. Lab #3 will be held in the Spring with a focus on confirming these action items, establishing a collaborative, and continuing to examine development opportunities as a group.



Affordable Infill Model (AIM) for Dallas is a multi-year project, generously supported by the Citi Foundation, designed to address gaps in the supply and demand for affordable housing in Dallas. The outcome of this process will be a set of solutions intended to guide the city toward a new market-based model for the creation of affordable infill housing through the use of currently vacant land.

Dallas Affordable Housing

Learn more about AIM for Dallas and our other sustainABLEhouse projects.

Affordable Infill Model (AIM) for Dallas is a multi-year project, generously supported by the Citi Foundation, designed to address gaps in the supply and demand for affordable housing in Dallas. The outcome of this process will be a set of solutions intended to guide the city toward a new market-based model for the creation of affordable infill housing through the use of currently vacant land.

To achieve this goal, AIM for Dallas is bringing together experts on the four main components of providing affordable housing: homebuyer preparedness (pipeline), development, policy, and finance. With administrative support from [bc], these experts - who believe that quality housing is a building block in people’s lives by providing stability, building resources and contributing to strong neighborhoods - will convene and set directions for research and solutions. With continual guidance from this assembled team of expert advisors, [bc] will conduct the necessary research to achieve the project goals.

Lab #1, held on Monday, September 29th, 2014, brought together over 30 practitioners working on affordable housing. These experts participated in a day-long session that established the challenges that AIM for Dallas will address. The day started with an exercise in which the practitioners broke out into interdisciplinary groups where they outlined the challenges for each area of project focus: pipeline, development, policy, and finance. In the second exercise, participants were separated by their area of expertise and, through a facilitated discussion, asked to prioritize the challenges outlined in the first session. At the end of the day, the prioritized lists of issues were brought back to the interdisciplinary groups who then identified the relationships between challenges, across the four workstreams. The output of Lab #1 will inform the next stages of the AIM for Dallas process by focusing the research resources on identifying best practices and solutions advanced in other communities.

Tenth Street Sweep

Read all the Activating Vacancy posts, and learn more about POP Dallas.

The final event of the Activating Vacancy initiative was the Tenth Street Sweep, a physical audit of the neighborhood. Community members, volunteers, and artists collected data to establish a baseline for neighborhood health. They also recorded the conditions of streets, sidewalks, vacant lots, historic structures, street lighting, and several other aspects of the neighborhood identified by community members as potential sites for the audit.  Information gathered will be used to propose, pursue and gauge positive growth and change in the Tenth Street Historic District.  Participants used a smartphone app called rePhoto to take pictures and complete survey questions during the audit

Check out the images from the audit.

After a morning of hard work, we all gathered for a barbecue  lunch at the American Care Academy. Thanks to Preservation Dallas, the The Life of Cities class at the UT Arlington School of Architecture, the 2000 Roses Foundation, Ruth West, the rePhoto team, and all the community members and volunteers who helped with the event!

Announcing bcANALYTICS

Watch for future posts about bcANALYTICS here.

Overcoming the major economic and social issues in the city that affect the working poor - jobs, housing, health, child care, and more - requires coordinated data gathering and analysis. Currently, Dallas significantly trails behind its peer cities in this work. Access to reliable, intelligible, and current data can reveal, and help coordinate, the related work of local government, non-profit organizations, business, neighborhood groups, universities, and foundations to improve local decision-making for the advancement of social and physical change in the city. Facilitating the use of data by city and community leaders leads to more targeted and thoughtful response strategies to individual issues, in service to comprehensive strategies.

bcANALYTICS, in partnership with the Communities Foundation of Texas, continues to work with nonprofits of the Data Driven Decision-Making Institute (D3) to deliver tailored analytics reports to fit organizational needs. While these reports answer organization-specific questions, they also address issues shared throughout the region and help guide strategic decision-making for many organizations.

The bcANALYTICS team also works to develop a potential model and implementation proposal to guide Dallas’ incubation of a robust effort to use advanced and continuously updated data to target and inform urban issues affecting the working poor. Research on national best practices will inform this work and help situate Dallas within the national context of organizations using data for community benefit. The project will ultimately evaluate how municipal government, universities, non-profit organizations, consulting agencies, foundations, and others might contribute to a model, and will explore possibilities to advance data sharing and access to address key challenges facing the working poor.

bcANALYTICS also supports other research being undertaken at [bc].

SMU deploys POP Toolkit

Learn more about POP Dallas.

testing sensors
testing sensors
creating power source for sensor node
creating power source for sensor node

In February 2013, Southern Methodist University’s Innovation Gymnasium and bcWORKSHOP began talks about a partnership to bring engineering students into neighborhoods to develop socially engaged technology solutions. The Innovation Gymnasium regularly runs Immersion Design Experiences (IDEs), intensive ten-day interdisciplinary engineering design projects for real clients that allow students to build skills with client relations, research, prototyping, finance, and marketing. During the last week of May 2013, the IDE began work within Dolphin Heights. Seven engineering students were presented with an unwieldy problem: how can you measure healthy living environment, connectivity, and cohesion, three of the Measures contained in the POP Toolkit? They brainstormed a number of possible solutions including: a wireless sensor network that could detect noise, light, weather, and air quality and relay the information to a website to host and display collected data; an interactive Neighborhood Board to display sensor-gathered data and also collect qualitative data; and a Wi-Fi bench to serve as a gathering place for the community while providing Wi-Fi to the neighborhood. Due to the budget and time constraints, the students decided to focus on producing the wireless sensor network and the website to display the collected data.

By tracking levels of sound intensity at sensors scattered throughout the neighborhood, students hypothesized that they could map movement and pinpoint circulation patterns (connectivity), gathering places (cohesion), as well as ambient noise (healthy living environment). Tracking light with photosensors at night and during the day would identify light pollution and available shade, two more components of a healthy living environment. An additional single sensor recording weather and air quality would help understand pollution (healthy living environment).

presentation of prototype to bcWORKSHOP and Ms Hill
presentation of prototype to bcWORKSHOP and Ms Hill

The students did a commendable job working hard under pressure with a great deal of sensitivity to the neighborhood’s interests and perceptions. Their technical success compares with their enthusiasm to extend their short-term solution into a long-term project complementing the POP Toolkit’s mission: assisting grassroots planning by preparing the community as advocates for change.

Many thanks to engineering students Kate, Greg, Elizabeth, Eric, Jeff, Lauren, Matt, Austin, and Alex! We are already looking forward to future collaboration!

Activity Book Launch

Learn more about POP Dallas.

The POP [People Organizing Place] Dallas Toolkit is an ongoing initiative that provides citizens with a common language and set of tools to gather neighborhoods around creating a vision & organizing community change. bcWORKSHOP is excited to announce the POP Toolkit Activity Book coming soon to a neighborhood near you! To participate in the pilot, you will need to gather an inclusive group of neighborhood stakeholders that will commit to seeking positive change guided by four meetings with bcWORKSHOP.

During the first meeting, bcWORKSHOP will help you collectively map and prioritize the issues and assets that sustain your neighborhood. This is used in the second meeting to generate a prioritized list of goals, which you will discover more about by building a Workshop around a Tool. The third meeting with bcWORKSHOP moves from reflection on discoveries to identifying partners and an audience to help reach your goal. You will build a second workshop around another Tool to share your goal with this audience. The last meeting with bcWORKSHOP helps identify and plan how a change will be made once the issue is understood and partners are gathered.

The Toolkit is a resource for neighborhoods in Dallas (and potentially beyond)! It teaches design thinking in the form of Tools that engage creative problem solving and Metrics that identify and compare outcomes. If your neighborhood is interested in exploring your assets and issues through the Toolkit, please be in touch!

Denton Neighborhood Empowerment Summit

Learn more about POP Dallas.

On October 27, 2012, bcWORKSHOP supported the City of Denton Neighborhood Planning Program's efforts to provide residents with tools to affect positive change in their neighborhoods by engaging them with the POP [People Organizing Place] Dallas Toolkit at the fourth annual Neighborhood Empowerment Summit.

Local advocates first learned about the Toolkit as a common language that guides people in understanding their physical and social environments, as well as provides them with tools to position themselves as effective advocates for change.  Next, the participants had to critically reflect on what they had done and were already doing in their neighborhood, allowing them to develop an informed strategy for advancing their interests.

The Toolkit requires active engagement, so bcWORKSHOP challenged participants to critically reflect on their daily behavior through several high-energy activities.  They were first given cards on which they wrote stories of what they have done in their communities related to a specific tool, and shared these stories in small groups.  In the same groups, they collectively chose one tool for a reflection exercise.  Group members were responsible for dissecting the story using the Toolkit’s four-step process by identifying the scale, naming the method used, and evaluating the tool's success.  The exercise generated productive dialogue, as groups discussed other tools that could be more effective and how their relationship with the physical environment influenced their actions.

To emphasize that sharing ideas and stories is an integral part of the Toolkit, bcW concluded the session by having each group not only present their discussion, but also defend the reasons their tool was appropriate for discovering, sharing, or making.

City Builder Lab

Learn more about POP Dallas.

In the summer of 2012 bcWORKSHOP partnered with Big Thought's Thriving Minds camp to launch the pilot toolkit + labs initiative. Using Dallas' historic Fair Park as a testing ground, middle school students engaged in a series of discovery, making and sharing-based learning exercises. Through these sessions, dubbed the City Builder Lab, students engaged with the historical, physical and social components of Fair Park. They examined the local environments within the park through the lense of a city builder, identifying problems and offering solutions as informed advocates of the park.

Toolkit + Labs

Learn more about POP Dallas.

The toolkit + labs is a component of the POP Dallas public design effort to strengthen our city's neighborhoods.  It is a mechanism that builds collective understanding and awareness of the historical, physical and social complexities of a place and empowers people to advocate for their own cultural sustainability.


The toolkit is an evolving strategy for how people can become engaged with the places they live. It can be about discovering our family history, sharing stories or making a garden. The toolkit is as much a recognition of human nature as it is a strategy for building and empowering individuals. It is a recognition of the many ways we give meaning to the things around us and of the ways we strive to position ourselves in the environment.

Through acts of discovering, sharing and making, the toolkit promotes engagement at the scale of the house, the street, the neighborhood and the city. Together the components build a laboratory — a living workshop — where people can begin to more clearly reveal the places they live.

Click here to see the full toolkit.


Power Plus

Research shows that 40 percent of all U.S. energy is consumed by buildings and 30 percent of that energy is wasted. Power Plus is bcW's energy education initiative addressing many of the underlying social, economic, and environmental factors that influence energy use. The initiative focuses the energy conversation within the scale of the home and employs high-tech and hands-on design tools that enable residents to make informed energy choices in the operation of their home in order to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

The high-tech side of the program utilizes an energy monitoring system called The Energy Detective (TED) to measure individual circuits and display real-time electricity cost within the home. Kill-a-Watt meters measure additional plug loads, creating a data-rich inventory of the home environment. bcWORKSHOP prepares detailed, graphic monthly reports of this data visualizing the home's energy use supplementing traditional utility bills.

The hands-on side involves a game-board style toolkit facilitating conversations about saving energy and money. The toolkit guides residents through a three month, seven meeting (4 weekly, then 2 bi-weekly, and 1 final month) discovery process with a bcWORKSHOP Energy Advisor. Visual tools including an annual graph of past power usage and the home's projected baseline performance serve as a guide for residents to inform decisionmaking, evaluate performance and achieve power usage goals. Using the toolkit, residents graph the weekly cost of appliances/activities separately, identifying the most costly behaviors. Additionally, a set of cards illustrate the cost per hour for each appliance and provides recommendations for saving money through either increased efficiency or conservation.

The high-tech and hands-on tools are deployed together encouraging dialogue and providing data. This coupled with energy saving actions and a feedback mechanism measuring action effectiveness helps residents make more informed choices. In this way, Power Plus demystifies the cost of electricity.