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Income-restricted housing projects delayed

City Council postpones decision on two housing developments
Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The San Marcos City Council has postponed a decision on two potential income-restricted housing projects. 

After two potential housing developments were presented on Tuesday, Council ultimately decided to postpone offering a resolution of no objection to the submission of an application for low-income housing tax credits to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for the two developments.

The two projects — Redwood Multifamily Housing Project located in the 1600 Block of Redwood Road and Lantana on Bastrop Multifamily Housing Project located at the intersection of South Old Bastrop Highway and Rattler Road — are income-restricted projects applying for a housing tax credit program through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA). The TDHCA “awards tax credits to eligible participants in order to offset a portion of their federal tax liability in exchange for the production or preservation of affordable rental housing.”

Previously, no exemptions from local taxes were provided under San Marcos’ Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Policy. On Nov. 6, the San Marcos City Council approved an amendment to the policy which allows the applicant to ask for an exemption from local taxes if the project meets the criteria listed in the policy. 

On Nov. 19, council postponed a decision on a resolution of no objection for the Redwood Project, citing a need to go back and discuss the project with the Workforce Housing Committee, as well as a need to discuss the LIHTC Policy. 

“I’m having trouble to vote against any type of affordable housing that’s coming to our community,” Mayor Jane Hughson said. “But we all know that anyone moving to our community will be using city services, libraries, parks, etc. To not receive any tax money when we’re tight on all of those things now and to bring in that many folks and not be able to really serve them, that’s a concern of mine.”

During discussion on the project, which would provide 296 units mixed between 30 and 60% AMI and a variation between 1-4 bedrooms, with 21 being ADA accessible units, councilmember Melissa Derrick expressed concern with the number of LIHTC projects that have been passed in San Marcos. 

“Over the last year, we’ve approved four and I think that increases our number by at least 1,000 units,” Derrick said. “Only 156 of which are age-restricted and its at a time where we’re seeing an increasing need for senior living units. We have two of these before us tonight that would add an another approximately 600 so that would be 1,600 apartment units that we would’ve added in about a year so I’m getting to the point where I’m not real comfortable approving any more unless they’re age-restricted or you know condos, townhomes, something like that.”

Councilmember Joca Marquez explained why she would be voting against the project, and discussed her experience living at Encino Pointe, another income-restricted development in San Marcos. Marquez said she lived in the apartment complex for five years, and noted the high turnover in staff and difficulty she found in getting out of the lease. 

“My apartment had mold for two years and all the apartment complex did was paint over it again. We used to have recycling for about a year and then after that people would just throw all of their stuff in the dumpster and it was really unkept,” Marquez said. “My dishwasher was never fixed, it was broken again for four years and there was a lot of pet waste all throughout the property. So these are some of the living conditions that I lived with for five years and those are some of the living conditions that people live in so please do not be fooled by the picture that these people paint because it’s definitely a false picture, and that’s why I’ll be voting against it.”

Council voted 6-1, with Marquez dissenting, to postpone the project until the committee has time to review the request and LIHTC criteria and provide clarification. 

Jake Brown, development coordinator with LDG Development, spoke about the Redwood Project and said that he recently ironed out a partnership with the Hays Caldwell Women’s Center which would reserve five units of the 30% AMI units for the center. 

“Money is important, but at the end of the day I’m just trying to provide affordable housing for you guys that you need,” Brown said while addressing council. “I know there’s concerns, specifically with you Ms. Derrick, about how you may be oversubscribing yourself or the community may be oversubscribing itself to the amount of affordable housing that’s coming online, but quite frankly you just can’t get enough of it.”

On a similar note, the Lanta on Bastrop Project was also postponed by council so that the Workforce Housing Committee can meet with the developer to discuss the wraparound services that would be provided. 

The developers would be partnering with the San Marcos Housing Authority for the project, which would give the authority $1,381,962 over a period of 4-5 years, as well as $150,00 per year through 2035, according to documents provided by the San Marcos Housing Authority. 

Council voted 6-1 to postpone the project to Dec. 3, with Marquez dissenting. 

San Marcos Record

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