In an effort to promote the development of affordable homes in Houston, City Council on Wednesday will consider proposals to bring 683 new or renovated affordable apartment homes to six communities across the city. All six of the apartment properties are in neighborhoods where poverty rates are low and school ratings are high – two factors that are key to meeting the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) standard for high opportunity areas.
In addition to the affordable home applications within the city, Houston City Council will consider proposals for six new apartment communities with a total of 860 units in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ). All but one of the properties are in areas of Fort Bend or Harris counties with poverty rates at or below eight percent, and all four family apartment proposals in the ETJ are zoned to high performing schools. The remaining two proposals would provide homes for seniors.
Development in a high opportunity area is a key criterion for apartment developers seeking the highly competitive nine percent low-income housing tax credits to help fund their developments. The tax credits are funded through the U.S. Department of Treasury but allocated annually by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA). Despite the number of developers seeking the tax credits, only two to four developments are typically funded each year in Houston.
“I want our low income residents to have housing options,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “They deserve the right to choose where they want to live. For some, that choice may be to stay where they grew up; for others, it may be to move closer to the upscale neighborhood near where they work. We need affordable homes in all communities, and we are committed to making that happen.”
One of the properties seeking credits this year, Heritage Apartments, is located in the upscale Westheimer/Galleria neighborhood where a Houston Housing Authority development proposed last year lacked support because of its high price tag.
In 2013, the Texas Legislature changed the housing tax credit program to give cities a voice in the scoring system. Now developers must receive resolutions from the governing bodies of the jurisdictions where they hope to develop. The governing bodies may choose to provide a “resolution of support,” which earns the application 17 points toward its overall score, or a “resolution of no objection,” which adds 14 points to the applicant’s score. Applications for development within the city’s ETJ receive half of the points from the city and half of the points from the county’s resolution.
Within the City of Houston, applications are reviewed by the Housing and Community Development Department (HCDD), which makes recommendations based on criteria that include the location and demographics of the property, the rating of nearby schools, and the concentration of other affordable home development in the area. Additionally, there is a need in Houston for more three- and four-bedroom units for families, as well as to improve older, deteriorating apartment properties, so these factors are considered in HCDD’s evaluation.
At Wednesday’s city council meeting, HCDD will recommend council approval of the following:
- A resolution of support for four proposals within the city
- EaDo Lofts at Coyle and Napoleon streets
- Heritage Apartment, 2666 Marilee Lane
- Provision at Wilcrest, Westpark Tollway and Wilcrest Drive
- 2222 Cleburne at 2222 Cleburne Street
- A resolution of no objection for two proposals within the city
- Holly Oak Seniors, 29 Hollyoak Drive
- The Kirkway, near 101000 block of South Sam Houston Parkway East
- A resolution of support for four proposals in the city’s ETJ
- Catalon at Harvest Green, Hwy 99 and Harlem Road in Fort Bend County
- Terraces at Arboretum, 15928 Old Richmond Road in Fort Bend County
- Willow Grove Apartments, Bellaire Boulevard and South Peek Road in Fort Bend County
- Reserve at Copperfield, Kentwick Drive near Langham Drive in Harris County
- A resolution of no objection for two proposals in the city’s ETJ
- Mariposa at Woodedge Park, FM 1960 West and Woodedge Park Drive in Harris County
- Campanile at Mission Bend, Beechnut and Lobera Drive in Fort Bend County
City council’s vote will determine the resolutions to be awarded to the developers for their applications, which must then be submitted to the TDHCA. It will not be known which, if any, of these projects receive housing tax credits until TDHCA’s announcement at its July 2017 board meeting.