Maintaining Houston's affordability for working class families

Houston Real Estate Advisory/Government Relations Consultant Laolu Davies- Yemitan suggests the city adopt a four-pronged approach to encourage more affordable housing development in Houston:

  • City land sales: When the city sells land to developers — like its recent sale to Alliance Residential Co., which is building a new luxury apartment project near Buffalo Bayou— city planners should mandate that a certain percentage of units be allocated for workforce housing.
  • Tax incentiveslike the Downtown Living Initiative, should also have mandatory percentages of units allocated for workforce housing and encourage more micro-units in the city. Tax increment reinvestment funds — a public funding model that allows for a portion of taxes in a given area to go to infrastructure improvements — does fund affordable housing, but it should be expanded.
  • The city should create a fast-track permitting process for affordable housing developers to make it easier for them to execute complex tax-credit-financed projects. Right now, the city faces a permitting backlog, a challenge for developers facing tight deadlines.
  • The city should ease parking regulations— like mandatory minimum parking garages and spaces — for affordable housing complexes, which should ideally be built near public transportation corridors.

“Houston has always been known for its good jobs and low cost of living,” Davies-Yemitan said. “With the way oil is right now, we need to at least maintain affordability. This is important for our city’s economic future.”

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