As the 2017 legislative session nears the end, the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate are still working to pass a number of affordable housing bills. During the session, state lawmakers have discussed bills related to tenant’s rights, housing discrimination, tax abatements, adjusting the owner-builder home loan program, amending the rules surrounding Homestead Preservation Districts, local short-term rental ordinances, linkage fees, and the disbursement of Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Before bills can head to the governor’s desk for final signature, they must clear the House and Senate. A number of key housing bills have cleared one of the chambers and are waiting to be heard in the other chamber.
One of the tools for funding affordable housing that the City of Austin has considered in the past is linkage fees. Linkage fees are broad-based, mandatory fees that are levied on all new construction and are used to fund the affordable housing needs of a jurisdiction. Boston, Chicago and Denver have all used this tool to create affordable housing. H.B.1449 filed by Representative Ron Simmons and S.B.852 by Senator Jane Nelson will prohibit local governments from imposing linkage fees on new construction. The House has passed H.B.1449 and the Senate is currently debating it. If this bill becomes law it will limit the ability of cities to fund local needs for affordable housing through this tool.
In 2005, Representative Eddie Rodriguez of Austin sponsored legislation that passed, creating Homestead Preservation Districts. That allowed cities to use housing tools aimed at increasing home ownership, providing affordable housing, and preventing gentrification. This session, Representative Rodriguez filed C.S.H.B.3281 that will continue to allow the City of Austin to establish Homestead Preservation Districts. The House passed the bill but it is waiting to be heard in the Senate. H.B.3919 filed by Representatives Shawn Thierry, Carol Alvarado and Jarvis Johnson, further expands the eligibility criteria to establish a Homestead Preservation District in a municipality with a population of two million or more. The House also passed this bill and it is being heard in the Senate.
The 85th Regular Legislative Session ends on May 29, 2017. To stay up-to-date on these bills visit the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service website.