The proposals are selected through an annual application process and in accordance with scoring criteria created by the Houston Housing and Community Development Department and are then submitted to the state of Texas. State housing officials will later approve less than half of the proposals to receive a 9% tax credit reserved specifically for affordable developments.
Proposals are set to be selected in July, according to agenda documents.
The item passed with little discussion despite an effort by At-Large Council Member Mike Knox to separate out two of the proposed developments on the list for further consideration. District G Council Member Greg Travis, who represents much of West Houston, seconded Knox’s idea; however, the remaining council members blocked the effort.
For one, Knox requested a discussion of a proposed development at 909 Fisher St., Houston, in the Garden Oaks neighborhood just northwest of Loop 610. Some community members spoke against the proposal during public comment, voicing concerns about flooding, school crowding and the size of the proposed lot.
“This location is a funky trapezoid, one-acre lot, and I cannot see how it would fit the building or the parking needed," resident Callie Ritter said. "We’re all for the idea of affordable housing, but this location is not the best location."
Other constituents voiced support for the development as a means to combat gentrification in the area.
“Red-lining was banned 50 years ago, and yet it is still hurting our minorities today," resident Sabrina Norman said, referring to a racially discriminatory practice in mortgage lending and city planning. "So I am asking ... for support of the Fisher Street Apartments."
In response to a January 2017 letter from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development stating that the city violated the Civil Rights Act by denying an affordable housing project proposal in the Galleria area, the Houston Housing and Community Development Department debuted a new scoring matrix in 2020 for evaluating proposals that results in a broader distribution of projects, rather than high concentrations in only certain areas of town.
“All these developments meet the criteria that we worked out with HUD to move forward,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said during a public comment session Feb. 23. “This is Step One, and I don’t want to run the risk of losing all out money for affordable housing because we are not adhering to the criteria that we established with HUD.”
Turner told constituents to take concerns to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, which has the final say on development approvals.