Axios Dallas

Newsletter branding image

Happy Monday! This is everyone's first time living.

🌨 Today's weather: Rainy and cloudy morning. High in the low 70s.

🎡 Sounds like: "Glory"

πŸ“₯ Programming note: Look out for a special Axios edition on teen mental health this afternoon, and subscribe to the free Axios AM for more essential national news.

Today's newsletter is 1,006 reparational words β€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Opal Lee's homecoming

Opal Lee's best day included some "holy" dancing and watching the structure of her future house go up. Photo: Courtesy of Trinity Habitat for Humanity

Opal Lee was just a girl in 1939, when a white mob burned down her family's home in Fort Worth.

  • Habitat for Humanity volunteers are now building a new house on the same spot so the 97-year-old known as the Grandmother of Juneteenth can live out the rest of her life there.

Why it matters: Lee has shown the world what it "really means to live with love and forgiveness and total inspiration," Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker said at an event at 940 E. Annie St. last week.

How it happened: Habitat for Humanity acquired the plot in 2021. Lee reached out soon after, asking to buy the land from Habitat so it could return to her family.

  • Habitat secured funding from Texas Capital Foundation and chose HistoryMaker Homes to build Lee a new house.
  • Lee got to pick out the design elements of the house and will get the furnishings paid for.
The framing of a house with a banner to the right that says "if people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love"
Opal Lee's family hopes she will live long enough to thoroughly enjoy this house when it's built. Photo: Naheed Rajwani-Dharsi/Axios

What's new: Dozens of supporters gathered on the plot last week to watch Lee, her family, city officials and the project's key contributors raise the front wall of what will be her new home.

  • "Hate tore the house down, love is going to build the house," Trinity Habitat for Humanity CEO Gage Yager said.
  • Lee said it was the happiest day of her life. "I'm so delighted. I could do a holy dance, but the kids say when I try, I'm twerkin' β€” whatever that is," she told the crowd.

Flashback: In 2016, at age 89, Lee walked from Fort Worth to Washington, D.C., to push to get Juneteenth named a national holiday. It became a federal holiday in 2021.

What's next: Habitat for Humanity hopes to finish the house by Juneteenth this year.

  • Lee says she only plans to bring her toothbrush when she moves in, her way of starting fresh.

The bottom line: "I hope I can keep on walking and talking and telling people that we are all one people. All one people. And the sooner we accept that, the better," she says.

Go deeper

2. Board issues abortion guidance

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

The Texas Medical Board's proposed guidance on exceptions to the state's abortion ban does not offer doctors enough clarity, critics say.

Why it matters: The ban, which makes performing an abortion a felony, has led some hospitals to refuse to treat even patients with serious pregnancy complications β€” though the law makes an exception for medical emergencies.

  • Texans facing dangerous pregnancy complications have been forced to seek abortions out of the state.

Driving the news: The board's proposed guidance, unveiled Friday, defines a medical emergency as "a life-threatening physical condition" aggravated or caused by a pregnancy that "places the woman in danger of death or a serious impairment of a major bodily function unless an abortion is performed."

Details: The guidance does clarify that an abortion is allowed in the case of an ectopic pregnancy β€” the implantation of a fertilized egg or embryo outside of the uterus.

What they're saying: Sherif Zaafran, the board's president, said board members were hesitant to put out an exhaustive list of qualifications for a medical emergency exception because it could "cause more harm."

  • "It would hinder the ability of specific circumstances to be looked at in a way that would be fair to both parties," Zaafran added.

The other side: Austin attorneys Steve and Amy Bresnen, who made the initial request in January for the board to take up the rule-making process, both testified Friday.

  • "We think that you can do more than it seems that your proposed rule would do. In that sense, we're disappointed," Steve Bresnen said.

What's next: The Texas Medical Board's public comment period lasts for at least 30 days. Then, the board will hold a public hearing and may adopt the rule or make changes.

Dig deeper

3. 🏑 Charted: The cost of living in luxury

Data: Redfin; Note: Luxury homes are in the top 5% by metro area market value, while non-luxury homes are in the 35th to 65th percentile. Chart: Axios Visuals

The typical Dallas-area luxury home sold for $1.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2023, per a Redfin report.

The big picture: Wealthy home shoppers, especially those paying with cash, are making up a growing share of the U.S. housing market.

Context: Redfin defines luxury homes as those estimated to be in the top 5% of their respective metro area based on market value.

Zoom in: The median price of luxury homes in North Texas increased by 6.5% between the fourth quarters of 2022 and 2023, Redfin found.

  • The median price of non-luxury homes decreased by 2.3% at the end of 2023.

Zoom out: Nationally, luxury prices rose nearly twice as much (+8.8%) as non-luxury prices (+4.6%) at the end of 2023, according to Redfin.

  • That's partly because many high-end home buyers are coming in with cash and not worried about mortgage rates, per Redfin. The increasing share of all-cash purchases has helped build up the high-end housing market.

Yes, but: Higher mortgage rates hit first-time and middle-income home buyers hardest, according to Redfin.

4. πŸ—ž Burnt ends: Bite-sized news bits

Twinkle, twinkle, lit-up sign. Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

βš•οΈ A Texas maternal mortality task force hasn't counted abortion-related deaths for a decade. (Austin Chronicle)

🌊 Water samples were clear enough to allow activities to resume at White Rock Lake after raw sewage from a Plano treatment plant flowed into a creek that feeds into the Dallas lake. (FOX4)

πŸš’ An Arlington firefighter is recovering after he was shot over the weekend while responding to a call requesting a welfare check. (Star-Telegram)

βš–οΈ An off-duty Dallas police officer was arrested on a public intoxication charge yesterday in Little Elm. (WFAA)

5. πŸ₯³ One giveaway to go

Your presence here is a gift itself. Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Psst…did you know you're our favorite reader? Don't tell anyone.

  • If you love us too, this is a great time to become an Axios Dallas member because it's giveaway week!

Why it matters: Memberships support local journalism and help us secure more resources to cover the city we love.

  • Members also get perks like exclusive emails, birthday shoutouts and the satisfaction of helping sustain our newsletter.

State of play: Today's giveaway is a bundle!

  • That includes some Axios swag with a tote, hat, water bottle and umbrella.
  • All members are automatically entered.
  • Sweepstakes rules apply.

πŸ’— The bottom line: We do this for you. Thank you for supporting our work.

This newsletter was edited by Bob Gee and copy edited by Carolyn DiPaolo.

Our picks:

πŸ›οΈ Tasha is reading about Galleria Dallas' glow-up.

🍨 Naheed is hoping Blue Bell's gooey butter cake flavor will be tasty.

Would you join our justice league? Spread the word. Forward this email to your friends.