Houston Housing Authority Update and Public Facility Corporation (PFC) Bills
Since assuming this role on City Council, one of the most contentious issues that I have encountered relates to the influx of Public Facility Corporation (PFC) developments popping up across our city. I have written at length about this topic in previous newsletters, but the problem persists. I want to stress that I support attainable housing. I believe PFCs are an essential tool that leverages local authorities' tax exemptions to promote the development of high-quality, mixed-income workforce housing. However, I also believe in transparency, accountability, and community engagement. With no oversight, accountability, and with minimal notice to residents, the current program creates opportunities for misuse and abuse — violating its original intent.There has been a lot of talk in the City of Houston, and in District G, of PFCs that have been created by the Houston Housing Authority (HHA). Here is a brief recap of the HHA and PFCs:
Houston Housing Authority (HHA):
The HHA is not a city department.
The HHA has seven commissioners appointed by Mayor Turner.
HHA commissioners do not come before council to have their appointments confirmed.
The terms for all of the sitting HHA commissioners have expired.
Public Facility Corporations (PFC) created by the HHA:
Under state code, local government authorities may create a public facility corporation (PFC) to purchase property, which is then leased back to a private developer or owner.
Developer partners with the PFC to build an apartment complex, which receives a full property tax exemption, under Texas law, so long as ½ of its units are rented to those making up to 80% of the area median income (AMI).
Units can be offered to people making 60% AMI.
There’s no restriction on the other ½ of the apartments, therefore the developer can charge whatever the market will bear (AKA market-rate).
PFC projects do not come before Houston City Council.
No City Council support is sought.
HHA’s position is that they are not required to give nearby residents notice of the projects.
In January, Mayor Turner placed a temporary pause on any additional PFC developments in our city following the testimony of several District G residents. Thank you to those that came and spoke! Last week, the HHA Chairman LaRence Snowden and HHA President and CEO David Northern came to speak at the Housing Committee meeting. They reported that the HHA has closed 76 Public Facility Corporation (PFC) agreements, and they have 51 properties currently in partnership negotiations. According to the Housing Authority’s testimony, each acquired property averages an estimated loss of $1 million in annual property taxes. In effect, removing $76 million every year from our city, schools, county, and flood control without input or approval from city council or any other elected body. Since the HHA has started creating PFCs, that averages out to about 21 properties a year being removed from the tax rolls, and most of these leases are for 75 years but some are up to 99 years. I’m all for lower taxes, but completely removing these properties only serves to shift the burden of maintaining services like police, roads, water – things that we all use and rely on – to neighboring taxpayers. In effect, these properties will not be contributing to the essential services that their residents will undoubtedly require.Many of you have contacted my office how this issue can best be addressed. The truth is that these policies need to be addressed by the legislature. As it happens, the biennial state legislature is currently in session, and it has come to my attention that there have been at least two bills that have been filed to address this issue:
HB 2071 by Rep. Jetton
SB 1278 by Sen. Bettencourt
These two companion bills seek to improve notification to local governments and will also require registration, compliance reviews, and annual audits for present and future PFC developments. I would encourage all concerned residents to research the two bills mentioned above and then contact your state legislators.
It should be noted that the PFCs mentioned above differ from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) tax credit program, which was also discussed in February.
THIS is a little scary:
“Selections from Bria Lauren’s ongoing body of work celebrate women of the South Side, Houston, to center and amplify their voices and the voices of Black women across generations who have been impacted by structural inequity, generational narratives, and respectability politics.
The works by Karen Navarro are part of two different ongoing series, “América Utópica,” a demographic portrait of America based on 2043 census prediction, and “The Constructed Self,” a collection of unconventional portraits, united by themes of identity, diversity, and the complexities of representation for historically marginalized identities.”