The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) could not meet to conduct business yesterday because it could not get a quorum of board members. As a result the agency is compelled to schedule an “emergency” board meeting for next Monday at Dallas Love Field.
All of this could have been avoided had Governor Perry followed state and federal law and appointed someone to fill the open TDHCA board seat reserved for a consumer. The consumer seat was recommended by the Sunset Advisory Commission back in 2001. It became a legal requirement shortly after that with the passage of a federal law requiring all government boards acting as public housing authorities (TDHCA being one) to have one representative of public housing residents or Section 8 housing voucher residents be a board member. The requirement that PHAs have a consumer on their board is also a require of state law as well.
Don’t get me wrong. My observations are that Governor Perry has done a generally fine job of picking decent and caring board members for the agency. It just makes sense to me that both for efficiency and for the benefit of a board charged with making decisions about housing programs and policy, the board would be even better with the perspective of a consumer of those housing programs to advise it.
But neither Governor Perry nor Governor Bush before him see things that way. Both refused to name a low-income housing consumer to the board. To fill the seventh TDHCA board seat with someone other than a representative of low-income housing consumers would be a direct violation of the law. So, while the state law says there are supposed to be seven TDHCA board members, there have never been more than six appointed.
Which takes us back to Thursday’s quorum problem. Three board members attended the meeting. If a seventh board member has been appointed and attended today there would have been four board members present to establish a quorum and the meeting could have proceeded.
Instead, there will be next Monday’s emergency board meeting. Department staff, board members and interested members of the public will lose another day of work. The state (taxpayers) will pay thousands of dollars flying people to the emergency meeting in Dallas. All to prevent the governor from having to empower one voice of low-income consumers.
Come on Governor. Do the right thing and make the consumer appointment.