Bo McCarver’s Weekley Housing News Compilation – 2/9/2010

Tuesday Report, February 9, 2010

Special to the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service

Southeast Fort Worth is once again the target of developers who tout they will convert the deteriorating sector into a thriving community. The relatively cheap land has attracted various builders through the years but all have succumbed to inadequate financing, a reluctant and divisive neighborhood, and bureaucratic city housing policies.

In Galveston we see residents still tossed about like corks on the ocean as the housing authority closes elderly housing and FEMA closes trailer parks.

For a pdf version of the full articles, plus contextual stories on social, environmental and legal areas, contact Bo McCarver at bmccarver@austin.rr.com

Federal smart growth

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy February 6, 2010

SEATTLE – Members of President Obama’s “green cabinet” vowed to implement smart growth at the federal level by coordinating the agencies responsible for housing, transportation, and the environment, delighting nearly two-thousand planners and local government officials gathered for a sustainability conference here.
 Shaun Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ray LaHood, secretary of the Department of Transportation, and Lisa Jackson, director of the Environmental Protection Agency, detailed how they were working together to favor funding for initiatives for housing with better proximity to jobs, schools, and transit, for example, and give more priority to transportation projects that helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions, over traditional criteria such as relieving congestion. They also said the agencies have also stopped working at cross purposes in the array of programs they administer, unifying disparate initiatives under the mantra of sustainability.
  “It’s time the federal government spoke with one voice,” said Donovan.

Full story at: http://atlincolnhouse.typepad.com/weblog/2010/02/federal-smart-growth.html

Dallas-Fort Worth home prices edge higher

By Steve Brown       Dallas Morning News February 9, 2010

North Texas home prices inched higher in January.

Pre-owned median home prices were up 1 percent last month from a year earlier.

But the number of pre-owned homes sold in the area fell by 6 percent – the second consecutive decline in the monthly sales figures.

Full story at: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/021010dnbusresales.fe6dcb99.html

Federal agencies failing to ease colonias’ water needs, new study says

By Gustavo Reveles Acosta        El Paso Times February 9, 2010

EL PASO — About $1.4 billion in taxpayers’ money has been sent to the border for water and sewage projects in the last eight years, but little has been achieved in making low-income neighborhoods more livable, a new federal study says.

The study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that the seven agencies that received the money made little progress because they did not conduct a water-needs study for the border region, nor did they coordinate their policies and processes.

The study also said that in some cases the agencies failed to comply with federal requirements and regulations. Among the federal departments that received the money were the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Full story at: http://www.elpasotimes.com/ci_14362517

Tough Nut To Crack

Can yet another developer dent the Near Southeast’s housing woes?

By Ed Griffin and Betty Brink       Fort Worth Weekly February 4, 2010

There’s a new developer on the block in Fort Worth’s Near Southeast Side who is confident he can do what dozens of other home builders and community leaders have not been able to do in spite of decades of effort: turn a desperately poor but historically significant neighborhood into a thriving community of well-built, affordable homes filled with stable, working-class families who in turn will lure shops and businesses back to the area.

It’s a dream fraught with figurative potholes as large as the real ones that fill many of the streets in the area now known as the Terrell Heights Historical District. But Dan Markson, senior vice-president for development of NRP Group, an Ohio-based construction company, is confident his company will succeed where others have failed.

Full story at: http://www.fwweekly.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2395:tough-nut-to-crack&catid=30:cover-story&Itemid=375

Housing aid extended for Ike-displaced families

By Mike Snyder        Houston Chronicle February 4, 2010

Federal officials on Thursday announced a two-month extension of housing assistance for Texas and Louisiana families displaced by hurricanes Ike or Gustav in 2008.

The Disaster Houston Assistance Program, which pays part of the rent for about 11,000 families affected by the two storms, will continue until May 27 rather than ending Feb. 28, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development said in a joint announcement.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal requested the extensions, the agencies said. FEMA pays for the housing program and HUD administers it.

Full story at: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6851846.html

County to begin Ike home buyouts

By T.J. Aulds       Galveston County Daily News February 4, 2010

County commissioners on Wednesday got formal approval for a massive home buyout program that would convert as many as 900 Hurricane Ike-damaged homes into open land.

County Emergency Management Coordinator John Simsen said Phase 1 of the $102.7 million buyout program began Monday when the county contractor, BDR, sent letters to 505 applicants stating their properties were approved for the buyout.

Full story at: http://www.galvnews.com/story.lasso?ewcd=ed040d9a9a41f250

GHA’s Krishnarao: Advocate or empire builder?

By Rhiannon Meyers      Galveston County Daily News February 7, 2010

GALVESTON — For a year and a half, Harish Krishnarao served a relatively quiet tenure as head of a housing authority that hadn’t seen much controversy since African-American tenants claimed in 1995 they were being segregated, propelling the authority into a federal court.

After Hurricane Ike struck on Sept. 13, 2008, flooding three-quarters of the island and destroying public housing, the authority is again the subject of intense public scrutiny.

As the debate rages about how and where to build public housing, Krishnarao has been thrust into the limelight — a place in which he’s not entirely comfortable.

Full story at: http://www.galvnews.com/story.lasso?ewcd=3e6f998d83bb3b5c

Elderly residents told they can’t return

By Rhiannon Meyers       Galveston County Daily News February 8, 2010

GALVESTON — Starting this week, 74 disabled and elderly residents will have leave Gulf Breeze, a housing project some have called home for decades, as the housing authority continues its first-ever large scale renovation of the high rise.

While some say they are unhappy about leaving Gulf Breeze, 1211 21st St., they are more unhappy they can’t return.

Galveston Housing Authority Executive Director Harish Krishnarao said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development prohibits housing authorities from allowing tenants to return to rehabilitated units if the agency provides them with suitable replacements.

Full story at: http://www.galvnews.com/story.lasso?ewcd=3ad08ed69d2be43a

FEMA to shut down mobile home park

By Rhiannon Meyers        Galveston County Daily News February 8, 2010

GALVESTON — Twelve families living in Federal Emergency Management Agency mobile homes in the Schreiber Field park have until April 30 to move before FEMA closes the park.

Under the deal FEMA made with Galveston school district to lease the 9-acre site at 83rd Street and Stewart Road, FEMA agreed to remove the mobile homes by April.

Although the city agreed to extend the deadline for FEMA mobile homes through July 9, those living in Schreiber Field must be out sooner so the school district can reclaim the land.

Full story at: http://www.galvnews.com/story.lasso?ewcd=6b46b4277a1e4ef1

Proposal would limit use of utility-owned land

Open space preservation vs. development

By David Burge       El Paso Times February 9, 2010

EL PASO — A fight could be brewing over an attempt to rezone thousands of undeveloped acres owned by El Paso Water Utilities to make it harder to build on.

The City Council will consider a proposal today that could eventually switch all undeveloped utility land inside the city limits to one of the city’s most restrictive zoning categories — the ranch-farm designation.

A council subcommittee and the city’s Open Space Advisory Board have both pushed for this zoning change.

It would prevent traditional development and limit this land to agricultural uses or homes on parcels of at least three acres, Deputy City Manager Pat Adauto said.

City staff members and the water utility are opposed to this blanket rezoning.

Full story at: http://www.elpasotimes.com/communities/ci_14361754

Opposition firm as vote looms

By Lowell Brown       Denton Record Chronicle February 7, 2010

Drivers on North Bonnie Brae Street recently saw a sign illustrating the way many rural landowners feel about Denton’s plan to annex their land.

Someone wrote “CITY STEALS LAND” in large black letters on a roadside sign the city had posted to advertise a public hearing. Area landowners say they don’t know who did it but can relate to the sentiment.

“This is very typical of how the entire neighborhood feels out there about the City Council,” said Ray Roberts, an annexation opponent who spotted the sign while driving last week. “I truly think they’re [council members] foolish; they’re wasting the city’s money.”

Full story at: http://www.dentonrc.com/sharedcontent/dws/drc/localnews/stories/DRC_annex_0207.f27af377.html