The low-income housing tax credit program is a policy tool administered by the federal government to help encourage the creation and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing developments. The only financial contribution the city would provide to the proposal is a $250 fee waiver, only issued if the project proposal is approved by the LITHC program.
The LITHC program offers two tax credit options: a 9%, competitive version primarily related to the construction of affordable housing, and a non-competitive 4% tax credit for the rehabilitation of affordable housing.
Sandy Watson of Zimmerman Properties represented the development proposal and said that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs creates a list of criteria each year based on areas of growth that have a need or demand for this specific type of housing. Watson added that Hutto would be an ideal location for the potential development due to its rural setting, offering a middle income, "workforce housing" for qualifying residents. Watson also said there are currently 669 income-qualified renter households in Hutto for this development.
Four residents spoke against the resolution of support during the Feb. 20 meeting, with most referencing an influx of traffic congestion that could come as a result of the development.
Veronica Johnson spoke before council and said with Farley Middle School adjacent to the proposed site—paired with neighboring communities like the Glenwood subdivision and the Cottonwood Creek community—it would impact both traffic patterns and the number of students enrolled in the both Farley Elementary and Farley Middle School.
Nicole Calderone said that with the increased traffic along FM 1660 as is, the city should consider a potential traffic light added to neighbohoods on both sides of the roadway should the development be approved.
"We’re stacking people on top of each other in an area that’s already oversaturated with our schools and our traffic," Calderone said.
Calderone also added that the city does not have a strong workforce presence within the city to fully justify workforce housing, nor are there public transportation opportunities available to qualifying residents who may need it to get to and from work.
The 7-acre Farley Tract was previously rezoned from general commercial to multifamily in 2016, with a proposed senior living facility attached to the site prior to cancellations of project plans due to medical complications with the developer.
During the discussion, Council Member Patti Martinez asked if a traffic impact analysis on the site proposal had been done yet, with Watson responding that one would be factored into the site, should it receive awardance from the LITHC progam.
“We didn’t come here to impose something the city doesn’t want or doesn’t need," Watson said.
Jennifer Burrington, economic development specialist for the city, said there are working residents living within the city—including teachers, police officers and students—who would qualify for the potential complex.
“These are people who already live in our communities," Burrington said.
Watson added that potential residents would have to go through a criminal background check, credit check and reapply for consideration each year, among other requirements.
Burrington said the city only has one apartment complex and one senior living complex as is, with wait lists attached to each development. Proposed rents range between $585-$1,315, with 16 units guaranteed to be listed at market rate, Watson confirmed.
Should the LITHC federal tax credit be approved for the project proposal, the proposed development would still have to go through the city's normal planning and development processes.
“It’s giving us an opportunity to compete, and that’s all that is," Watson said.