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Joy Horak-Brown and Bobby Wilkinson

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Urban Affairs Hearing.  March 17, 2017

 

The three bills listed below were left pending in committee. This is the custom of several committees. The bills will be eligible for consideration and passage out of committee at the next meeting, March 21st.

Rep. King stated that it would be his preference that the letters be done away with altogether. If that was not possible he wanted to share the pain with Senators again. 

House Urban Affairs

 

The House Committee on Urban Affairs, under the direction of Chair Alvarado, met yesterday afternoon at 12:44. 

HB 885   By King, Ken. Relating to the system by which an application for a low income housing tax credit is scored. – left pending 

(12:45) Rep. Ken King said his bill would add state senators back to the scoring process. 

(12:48) Demetria McCain of the Inclusive Communities Project testified in opposition to the bill, noting how a state elected official can stop low-income housing in white neighborhoods because that official’s office is “bombarded” by people opposing the project. 

(12:52) Jean Langendorf of Disability Rights Texas spoke against the bill, stating no need for a senator to be involved in scoring. 

HB 616   By Leach, Jeff. Relating to the system by which an application for a low income housing tax credit is scored. – left pending 

(12:55) Rep. Leach stated his bill would remove the state representative letter from the scoring process because of “abuse” and the “ripeness of corruption.” He told of the “inordinate amount of time” his office used to spend on these real estate development projects and now is neutral on all projects. 

(1:03) Demetria McCain of the Inclusive Communities Project testified in support of the bill and discussed how low-income housing projects are required to have another level to the process and how HOAs “act vehemently upon their biases” against minorities. 

(1:05) Craig Alter of Commonwealth Development spoke in favor of the bill, saying the process “should not be politicized.” Responding to Rep. Isaac, Mr. Alter stated 1.5 million of Texas’ 3 million rental households are overcrowded, have physical deterioration, or spend greater than 30% of gross income on rent. Rep. Isaac noted bureaucratic control and Mr. Alter noted local control. 

(1:11) Charlie Price of the Development Corporation of Tarrant County testified in opposition to the bill. He said state representative involvement is a “great tool” in the process, and deals have community support before the state rep’s letter. 

(1:17) Jean Langendorf of Disability Rights Texas testified neutral on the bill, stating it is “another level of concern” with regard to fair housing. 

(1:18) Justin MacDonald of the MacDonald Company and representing the Texas Assn. of Builders spoke in favor of the bill because it removes a “substantial barrier” to housing development. 

(1:21) Sarah Anderson of the Texas Coalition of Affordable Developers testified in support of the bill, stating local support is “crucial” to development. Rep. Leach mentioned the role of commissioners’ courts and ETJs. Rep. Isaac asked why not start with the state rep. first and Ms. Anderson answered her organization does once a city is interested in a project. Rep. Leach noted his bill only removes the state rep. from the scoring process and he or she can still participate in it. 

(1:30) Terry Anderson of Anderson Development and Construction spoke in favor of the bill, remarking how community support is important. 

(1:34) Charlie Duncan of Texas Low-Income Housing Information Service testified in support of the bill. He said a state rep. can “block” a housing project and “objective metrics” are needed. Rep. Leach spoke of the potential influence of campaign contributions by developers. 

(1:38) David Riddle, former commissioner of Harris Co. Housing Authority, testified in opposition to the bill, saying taxpayers must be able to contact their elected officials. 

(1:41) Toni Jackson, a Houston lawyer who specializes in affordable housing projects and representing the Texas Affiliation of Affordable Housing Providers, testified in support of the bill. She discussed how political influence and NIMBYism is greater than addressing housing needs. 

(1:52) Bobby Bowling, an El Paso developer and representing the Texas Affiliation of Affordable Housing Providers and the Texas Apartment Assn. testified in support of the bill, mentioning how no other state uses state officials in the scoring process. Discussion ensued. 

(2:09) Tim Irvine of TDHCA said “competition is based solely on the score” of housing projects. Such projects are at a “significant point disadvantage” without the state rep. letter which has become “de facto necessary.” 

(2:15) Rep. Isaac said he is “no” at the moment on the bill but looking forward to working on it. Rep. Leach said he is looking toward a “workable solution.” 

HB 1609   By Price, Four. Relating to the system by which an application for a low income housing tax credit is scored. – left pending 

(2:17) On behalf of Rep. Price, Chair Alvarado said the bill would keep state reps. in the process but only in districts which contain a county with a population of greater than 450,000 residents. 

(2:20) Charlie Duncan of Texas Low-Income Housing Information Service testified in support of the bill. 

(2:21) Bobby Bowling, an El Paso developer and representing the Texas Affiliation of Affordable Housing Providers and the Texas Apartment Assn. stated all low income housing deals have had a letter of support from a state rep. 

The committee adjourned at 2:24 p.m. 

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