- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

DALLAS (AP) - Dallas leaders are promising a review of the city’s low-income housing program after learning a developer is a convicted felon who sold homes to his family and never built on other lots acquired from the city.

Jose Santos Coria has purchased three dozen lots since 2012 with the promise to build affordable homes. But in four years he’s sold just 11, and four went to two of his sons, a daughter and a grandson.

Coria’s children already owned larger residences when they bought the low-income homes, property records show. And the children were co-directors of his real estate company, The Dallas Morning News reported (https://bit.ly/2hoPenR ).

Most of his lots remain vacant - well after the construction timetable he had promised the city - and it comes at a time when the low-income housing program is running out of land for other developers in parts of the city.

The program relies on the city acquiring empty lots from property owners who have long been delinquent on their taxes. It clears the liens and sells the lots to home builders once the city council approves their development plans for affordable housing.

The manager of the program, Terry Williams, said he didn’t know about Coria’s criminal conviction for felony theft until he was told by the newspaper. Coria was convicted in 2012 of buying stolen building supplies.

Prior to that, Denton police in 2009 seized more than $350,000 in cash that Coria had hidden at his Dallas house after investigators traced stolen goods to his business, according to his court file. A Denton investigator said police suspected Coria of pouring illicit cash into real estate.

Coria declined to speak to the newspaper about his housing developments, commenting only that, “I don’t have anything to say.”

Officials said it appears the city’s housing program has few written policies, and council member Scott Griggs said the housing department didn’t properly vet Coria or verify the purchasers of his homes were low-income.

“We can’t even begin to do due diligence,” Griggs said. “Certainly, we have well-meaning city staff and management, but without written documentation and procedures, it’s possible for something like this to happen.”

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Information from: The Dallas Morning News, https://www.dallasnews.com

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