State issues

Texas Senate committee hears strong support for Texas Housing Trust Fund

A chorus of voices spoke up for an increase in the Texas Housing Trust Fund in testimony this week before the Texas Senate International Relations and Trade Committee in Austin.

The committee is charged with reporting on solutions to the state’s unmet rural housing needs.

The hearing can be viewed by clicking the image below. This is a large file that will take some time to download but once the entire file is downloaded you can jump directly to the testimony of a specific witness by selecting them in the pop-up box on the movie viewer window.

Texas Senate Committee testimony of rural housing solutions. Click the image to watch.  After entire movie downloads (a long time), click the name of a witness in the movie controller to jump to their testimony.
Texas Senate committee testimony on rural housing solutions. Click the image above to watch. After the entire movie downloads (a long time), click the name of a witness in the movie controller to jump to their testimony.

Here is a short recap of the witnesses and their testimony.

Donna Chatham, Association of Rural Communities in Texas (ARCIT) spoke about a rural housing study being undertaken by TDHCA, Texas Tech University, ARCIT, Motivation, Education and Training, Inc, and the Texas Low Income Hosing Information Service.  She also spoke on concerns about the current policies in the rural owner-occupied housing rehabilitation program.

Paul Turney of Brazos Valley Affordable Housing Corporation spoke about rural land banks.

Ginger McGuire of Lancaster Pollard spoke of the challenges of financing Low Income Housing Tax Credits in rural areas of the state and urged that replacement of rural rental housing using USDA Section 538 funds be permitted under state program rules.

Moises Loza, director of the Housing Assistance Council in Washington supported increasing funding for the state housing trust fund.  He brought a number of rural housing “best practices” to the the committee’s attention and urged them to begin to prepare to administer the National Housing Trust Fund resources that will become available to states and major cities with the Trust Fund’s passage in the big housing bill several weeks ago.

Robert Doggett, representing the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service spoke on the need for a $50 million Texas Housing Trust Fund and the need to develop a dedicated revenue source to fund it.

Michael Gerber, Executive Director of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, outlined his department’s request for an increase in funding for the Texas Housing Trust Fund to $20 million per year as well as outlining accomplishments of the program.  He announced hid department’s intention to expand the number of organizations undertaking Texas Bootstrap Owner-Builder housing programs (self-help housing) by establishing a “Boot Camp” for new organizations to learn how to administer the program from established, successful nonprofits.

Matt Hull, state director of Texas Habitat for Humanity spoke of Habitat’s support for increasing funding for the state housing trust fund.

Ron Williams who directs Southeast Texas Housing Finance Corporation as well as serving as state chair of the Texas Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies spoke in support of the increased funding for the Texas Housing Trust Fund as well as pointing out that local housing trust funds merit additional support.

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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