Texas Housers calls on State of Texas to dismantle racial residential exclusion through the housing tax credit program

Texas Housers believes the locational decisions the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) adopts for selecting sites for Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) should be the same ones that tenants make when they select where to rent in the private rental market:

  • quality schools
  • safety from crime
  • a healthy environment
  • access to goods, services and employment opportunities

For too long subsidized housing has been largely confined to areas of concentrated poverty and racial segregation. This is the legacy of racial housing discrimination that TDHCA must act to affirmatively overcome.

Expanding housing options into historically off-limits high quality neighborhoods is something TDHCA must undertake both in awarding 9% LIHTC for new construction and in considering applications for rehabilitation of older apartment developments using 4% LIHTC.

In competitively awarding public funds through LIHTC, TDHCA must determine whether the best outcome for tenants over the course of another 30 years at a rehabilitated property will be achieved by extending the life of that property in a place that is distressed. TDHCA should evaluate whether tenants will be better served by rebuilding an existing property in a location that offers families access to the quality of life benefits of living in a higher opportunity area. This approach requires TDHCA to modify the LIHTC program rules for developers to be able to not simply repair an existing property in a bad location, but to acquire a property and transfer existing HUD rent subsidies to a new property in a better environment for the tenants.

Older subsidized apartments, with inferior design and quality standards, and those located near failing schools, high crime, environmental hazards and away from goods, services and employment opportunities are almost always a legacy of racial discrimination. TDHCA has a moral and legal responsibility to overcome discrimination and inequality by dismantling this legacy of racism in subsidized housing.

Overall, Texas Housers advocates that good schools, low poverty, and other indicators of high opportunity areas be the major sources of points for selecting 9% projects. We’d also like to see these factors strongly influence how 4% projects are selected.

Texas Housers believes tenants should have a choice of neighborhoods where they choose to live. Texans with limited means should not be forced into distressed areas because no subsidized housing is available that they can afford in high opportunity areas.