State issues

TX Senate studies housing

In the previous post Karen Paup brought up the inclusionary zoning issue at the Texas Legislature.  I pointed out that there was an interim study underway in the Senate that was looking into the current state ban on inclusionary zoning.

There are a number of other interesting housing and community development issues that are also being studied by Texas Senate Committees at the behest of Lt. Governor Dewhurst.  Here is the list.

Intergovernmental Relations Committee

Study and make recommendations on Texas’ housing programs, with particular focus upon:

• Increasing the effectiveness of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs’ (TDHCA) Housing Tax Credit (HTC) Program. Examine potential rule changes to the HTC Program’s Qualified Allocation Plan to give owners of mixed-income projects seeking low-income housing credits the same opportunity to receive credits that low-income projects have, thus helping cities address the problem of a lack of adequate quality affordable housing while enhancing central city revitalization;

• Significantly improving homeownership rates by evaluating Texas’ efforts to address the growing housing need. Efforts should include assessment of the range of tools which may be used to help low-income Texans develop equity through homeownership. Tools should be evaluated in terms of their economic development impact, leverage of federal and private funds, and how they are utilized in other states;

• Evaluating the progress of affordable housing programs within the state and developing recommendations to boost the capacity of non-profits to build increased affordable housing developments;

• Monitor the expansion of the Housing Trust Fund by the 80th Legislature; review the funds of other states to develop recommendations for a permanent funding source for the Texas Housing Trust Fund;

• Promote home-ownership through self-help initiatives such as the Texas Bootstrap Loan Program;

• Assessing the existing use of state and federal housing funds in relation to statutory and budgetary mandates; and

• Examining the incidence of health and safety violations and concerns for general habitability among multi-family and single-family rental properties across the state, including properties financed or supported by the state. Consider the adequacy of the existing authority conferred by the state upon local governments to address violations of habitability standards. Make recommendations for extension of local capacity for redress.

• Review title insurance requirements relating to the purchase of a home under an installment contract or contract for a deed. Study title insurance requirements and costs in Texas as compared to other states.

• Study the shifting geographic nature of low-income neighborhoods in urban and suburban areas, focusing on factors that contribute to economic displacement of low income homeowners and factors that contribute to beneficial redevelopment of distressed neighborhoods.

International Relations and Trade Subcommittee

• Review state and local policies relating to development and growth in rural and unincorporated regions of the state. Work with housing advocates, county organizations and appropriate officials to assess the proliferation of substandard housing in rural and unincorporated areas.

• Develop recommendations to better provide Border and rural communities access to state and federal resources. Review the programs established by different states and recommend initiatives that Texas can enact to increase the competitiveness of these communities, engender critical development, provide affordable housing, identify community assets, retain/create wealth and create regional jobs. Study and make recommendations to expand business opportunities in international markets for businesses located in economically distressed areas, including rural and Border areas.

• Determine the appropriateness of and make recommendations on the existing extraterritorial jurisdiction authority currently granted under colonia prevention measures along the border region.

I have testified on a number of these charges and will post my testimony soon.

I started my commitment to housing justice for people and communities with low incomes in 1975 in Austin's Clarksville community. These years of working side-by-side with dedicated community leaders to find solutions to housing and community development challenges have taught me some things and I’m learning new things every day.

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