[NOTE: if you want to read more about how low income housing tax credit allocatins in TX have resulted in the congregation of affordable housing in lower income, minority areas, read more here]
Will Gov. Rick Perry’s little-noted veto of legislation making procedural reforms at the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs continue the ghetto-ization of low-income housing being built in Texas? That’s the premise of a series of thoughtful and intriguing posts by the dedicated folks at the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service.
The background: In the world of affordable housing financed by federal tax credits — which is to say most of the low-income housing being built in Texas and the country — critics complain that support from nearby neighborhood organizations and elected officials has assumed an out-sized importance. Within the competitive point system the Texas housing agency uses to award hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the tax credits for new projects, a letter of support from neighbors is worth more points than any other criteria. A letter from an elected state representatives is worth slightly less.
Either, however, is so valuable that it can make an entire project. Conversely, a letter of neighborhood opposition — which subtracts points from a developer’s application — can kill a project.
“This might appear to be representative democracy at work,” TxLIHIS co-director John Henneberger wrote in one recent blog post. “But the process has produced some of the most serious public corruption in recent state history.”
That’s because “a single State Senator or House member or a single city council member has enormous power over the competitive application process for a program annually worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” Henneberger added.
Read more at the Austin American Statesman