While the community of Joppa (aka known as and pronounced “Joppee”) is considered a “sparse suburban” neighborhood, it is one that is rich in historical roots. Located near the intersection of I-45 and Loop 12 in the southeastern part of Dallas County, it is the same distance from downtown Dallas as downtown is to NorthPark Center to the north.
Considered one of Dallas County’s older Freedman communities, according to Mike Magers‘ research, the area came into the possession of a nearby plantation owner by the name of Miller, who was a slave owner. When the emancipation of slaves took place, some of Miller’s former slaves along with others settled in the area. One in particular was Henry Critz Hines, who operated a ferry from 1872 to 1890 to transport people across the Trinity to Houston and the Texas Central Railroad and to downtown Dallas.
As the city of Dallas grew north over the first half of the 1900s, Joppa wasn’t annexed by the city until October 3, 1955. Even then Joppa struggled, lacking public transportation, a school in the community, and other basic needs.
For instance, when Freedman’s Town Memorial Bridge was completed in 2007, it was not wide enough to accommodate both pedestrians and cars. It would be more than a dozen years later until funding for a footbridge would be finalized. Even then the Dallas Morning News reports that “final plans are anticipated by March 2024 and construction should begin in late 2024.”
While Joppa’s progress has been frustrating, the recent awareness and support of South Dallas and the Trinity River area (i.e., Trinity Forest Golf Club, Trinity Forest Trail Extension, Trinity River Audubon Center, Texas Horse Park, etc.) is having an impact on Joppa.
However, one of the groups that has been supportive of Joppa over the years is the Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity.
To support Dallas Habitat’s efforts, the Dallas County Commissioners Court voted in favor of a $1.6M grant to continue its work in Joppa. The goal is “to create homes for families earning less than 80% of the Area Media Income to purchase, helping them achieve home ownership and create generational wealth for their families. The construction will involve the collective effort of volunteers, staff and subcontractors. An essential part of this project is Dallas Habitat’s ‘sweat equity’ program, where future homeowners are required to contribute more than 350 volunteer hours. These hours will be spent on building their homes and attending financial education classes, enabling families to qualify for Down Payment Assistance (DPA). Through the Dallas Habitat’s affordability funds, the homes will be offered with 0% interest financing and up to $10,000 in DPA in exchange for the families’ sweat equity.”
According to Dallas Habitat CEO Bill Eubanks III, “For more than 30 years, Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity has been committed to the Joppa community, partnering with families to build safe homes and create positive change throughout the neighborhood. Today is a truly special day as this investment will not only transform the lives of the families who will call these houses their homes, but also contribute to the revitalization of the entire Joppa community.”
* Image credit: masterplantexas.com ** Graphic/photo courtesy of Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity