Williamson County joins regional housing authority

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RPH-2018-07-25-02
Williamson County commissioners voted in April to begin a partnership with the Texas Housing Foundation, an independent housing authority based in Marble Falls, to bring new affordable options to the county.

Mark Mayfield, the foundation’s CEO, told commissioners in February that a partnership with the county would streamline the process of bringing more affordable housing developments to the area and provide a layer of transparency.

“Most of the people we house are people who work in the retail establishments and work in restaurants or work in schools,” Mayfield said. “They’re necessary, vibrant parts of the community, but they can’t buy the [expensive] homes.”

The commissioners voted unanimously to join the Texas Housing Foundation on April 17.

REPRESENTING COUNTY INTERESTS


The Texas Housing Foundation currently operates affordable properties in Georgetown, Liberty Hill and other locations outside of Williamson County. With or without the county’s participation, the organization could construct housing in the county, according to Williamson County Commissioner Larry Madsen, Precinct 4.

By joining, Williamson County earned a place on the Texas Housing Foundation’s board and can prevent the foundation from exercising the power of eminent domain to acquire property within the county and outside of the boundaries of a municipality,  according to county documents.

Mayfield said that by having a board member, Williamson County will be able to represent its interests within the organization. John Moman, a former member of Round Rock City Council and other local boards, was appointed to represent Williamson County on the Texas Housing Foundation’s board of commissioners.

PROVIDING HOUSING


The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs Housing Tax Credit program awards tax credits to developers to create or maintain affordable rental housing for qualified tenants, according to the department’s website. This differs from Section 8 subsidized housing, which bases rent on the tenant’s income.

The Texas Housing Foundation works primarily in public-private partnerships, often developing tax credit housing with the help of a for-profit developer, and then the foundation maintains management of the property, Mayfield said. The foundation’s complexes have different criteria to determine who qualifies to live at each property, rather than a blanket income bracket, to meet the needs of the individual communities it serves, he said.

In Texas, there is an average of 0.009 tax credit units for each resident. Round Rock falls below the state average with 0.007 tax credit units per city resident.

The Texas Housing Foundation is currently working on acquiring a multifamily complex inside Round Rock to refurbish and offer as affordable housing. The property, currently known as the Oak Grove Apartments, has 24 units.

Mayfield said the foundation is in the process of acquiring the property and hopes to close on the property by September. Though all discussions with Round Rock up to this point have been preliminary, any establishment of affordable housing will have to be done in coordination with the city.

“We aren’t going to come in and tell Round Rock what needs to be done,” Mayfield said.

Additional reporting by Carlie Porterfield.
By Abby Bora
Abby Bora started at Community Impact Newspaper in May 2017. After working as a reporter, she became editor of the Cedar Park-Leander edition in October 2018. She covers Leander ISD and city government. Bora graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. with a bachelor’s degree in media and communications studies.


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