The City of Houston has about 160 million dollars, the majority of them coming from the federal government, that could be used towards affordable housing and Mayor Sylvester Turner wants to make an effective use of that money, which hasn’t been the trend so far.
Turner wants to kick-start the ways in which the City’s Housing and Community Development Department uses funds for affordable housing after an investigative story by the Houston Chronicle revealed that since Fiscal Year 2007 the City spent almost 50 million on administrative costs and federal fines, as well as on keeping housing projects moving after Houston had lost state and federal grants.
“We are looking to get it as quickly as possible appropriated and into a good development so, in terms of our work and identifying the source where it’s headed, I’m looking at about a 12 month timeframe for that.” Tom McCasland, director of the Housing Department told Houston Public Media.
The Mayor also wants to speed up construction of new units on lots that the City acquired because their owners owed taxes, while defining what is affordable is another goal.
Turner explained during the press conference held after Wednesday’s City Council meeting that calculating the definition of affordability would probably be “based on different incomes, so we know what we are doing in each category and how much housing we are making available.”
The Mayor has also tasked McCasland with preparing annual reports that clearly explain how much the City is spending on affordable housing.