Changes coming to how the state doles out money for low-income housing
The rule changes, approved late in 2011, were intended to address two major concerns: that the state housing agency has unfairly funneled housing for the poor into low-income, minority areas, and that the agencyâ€™s board was using its power over subsidies too freely and without sufficient transparency.
â€śWeâ€™re going to see projects in exurban areas where they have good schools and where it doesnâ€™t have a high minority population. We will see fewer projects built in cities.â€ť
In the wake of a federal lawsuit challenging the concentration of affordable housing in low-income areas, the state shifted its scoring to reward projects in higher-income or downtown areas. Under the new scoring, developers miss out on four possible points by building in lower-income areas.
Simultaneously, Gov. Rick Perry stripped the authority of the state board to grant subsidies outside the scoring system
More on this in a bit....
In 2008, a local nonprofit called the Inclusive Communities Project
sued the housing agency on grounds that it promoted segregation by pushing low-income developments into minority areas.
There's that name again. Continuing....
The seismic changes for subsidies â€” the new scoring and the halt to board awards â€” have widespread implications for where new affordable housing will be built, several developers said.
For one thing, the path for projects in lower-income areas will be much tougher. The agency will reward projects in â€śhigh-opportunity areas,â€ť defined as census tracts with higher median incomes and that have good schools or access to transportation.
But donâ€™t expect them to seek out places like Preston Hollow, Frisco or Plano, several developers agreed. First, land costs are too high. Second, projects are still heavily penalized under the points system if neighborhood groups oppose them.
â€śIn Frisco and Plano, you are not going to get neighborhood support,â€ť Greenan said. â€śNo one ever has.â€ť
The boardâ€™s power to grant subsidies was one way developers got projects funded in areas where opposition is high. In 2010, the board approved subsidies for a project in Frisco, over major opposition.
Kerrville developer Justin MacDonald believes that finding locations that can win enough points to earn subsidies â€świll get a lot more difficult.â€ť
So what do y'all think? The board can't use their slush fund to reward favorably connected developers any more. OTOH, they get more points for building in high-income areas but purportedly lose points when there is significant neighborhood opposition. One of the things I didn't excerpt from the much longer article is that competition among developers for these points is extremely fierce and anything that costs any points at all can make the difference between getting a handout of state cash or getting nothing.
Do the new guidelines make it harder or easier for Betsy Julian to finally get her Section 8 slum for Dallas gang bangers built in Frisco?