The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the City of Houston today announced a joint agreement designed to expand housing choice and mobility for lower income residents, including those experiencing homelessness and victims of Hurricane Harvey.
The agreement requires the City of Houston to adopt multifamily priorities and a policy for objectively evaluating federally supported affordable housing developments in all areas of Houston; to seek to invest additional funds in homeless assistance programs, and; to encourage more landlord participation in Houston’s housing voucher program. Read the Voluntary Compliance Agreement.
“Today, we announce a positive agreement that works to expand housing options for lower income Houston residents, especially in neighborhoods with better performing schools and higher paying jobs,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “We’re pleased the City is committed to making sure taxpayer-supported affordable housing development be supported and encouraged in a fair and inclusive manner.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said, “The City of Houston is pleased with the agreement. We appreciate the commendation HUD provides with it for programs we already have under way and the guidance it offers as we work to build a city of complete communities where all residents can find quality homes in neighborhoods with the economic and educational opportunities necessary for creating success in life.”
Specific provisions of the agreement include:
- Broadening Voucher Mobility – HUD and the City of Houston recognize that landlords’ reluctance to rent to voucher holders may pose a barrier to mobility in Houston. The City will continue to implement a Voucher Mobility Pilot program to encourage landlords in all areas of the City to rent to qualified families regardless of their source of income. Working with an existing nonprofit organization and local housing authorities, the City will pursue the goal of facilitating mobility of 350 voucher holders in neighborhoods with high-performing schools.
- Investing in Homeless Assistance – The Houston Housing Authority (HHA) is a key partner in addressing the City’s affordable housing needs. The City has/will invest a combined nearly $3 million from various sources to support individuals and families experiencing homelessness. In addition, the City will work to secure $2 million in disaster assistance to match $2 million in private funding to HHA to help victims of Hurricane Harvey who became homeless.
- Developing a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Site Selection Policy – The City and HUD agree that affordable housing is needed in all areas of Houston, including high opportunity areas like District G. During the two-year term of the agreement, the City will develop and adopt an objective policy for evaluating Resolutions of Support or Resolutions of No Objection for affordable housing applications supported by the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program. For example, the City will not permit veto or special points for any individual City Council member in the approval process for LIHTC applications.
- Developing an Affordable Housing Strategy – The City will seek comprehensive technical assistance from HUD to meet its obligations under the Fair Housing Act to affirmatively further fair housing. This technical assistance will also help ensure that any current or future disaster recovery funds be fairly applied to help all the citizens of Houston.
HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.