Zoned Out in Texas: How One Mother Overcame Dallas’s Discriminatory Housing Laws

Patricia McGee was living in the Mandalay Palms Apartments in a rough section of Dallas a few years ago when one day her ten-year-old son said, “Momma, look.” McGee peered out the window and saw a sex worker hanging out at the bus stop in front of the apartment “doing some things she shouldn’t be doing.”1 McGee was horrified. “Your kids, they pay attention to everything,” she says. They began “talking about stuff they ain’t got no business talking about,” she says.2

McGee, who had grown up poor, wanted something better for her kids. But she felt trapped. The safer neighborhoods with good schools were off limits. For decades, Dallas and its suburbs had enacted a series of policies—redlining, racially restrictive covenants, and de jure school segregation—designed to keep Black people like McGee and her children out of wealthier, white neighborhoods.

Read how Inclusive Communities Project helped Patricia and her family, and background about housing discrimination in Dallas at The Century Foundation.