Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs - Building Homes and Strengthening Communities
 

78th Legislature Reaches Halfway Mark

(AUSTIN 04/08/03) The 78th Legislative Session reached the halfway mark this week and while the deadline for filing bills and resolutions has passed, there is no short supply of work that remains to be done. Appropriations remains the key issue facing this Legislature as the state faces an estimated budget shortfall of nearly $10 billion. So far, TDHCA has seen its fair share of action, with more on the way.

TDHCA Sunset Bills

The most significant legislation affecting TDHCA is Senate Bill (SB) 264 by Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., and House Bill (HB) 676 by Representative Jim Dunnam, TDHCA’s Sunset Legislation. The Sunset Advisory Commission found that TDHCA has improved responsiveness to public input, has made the Department more accountable to public interests and has adopted compliance rules and procedures to better ensure fair access to the housing units it funds. Based on the Commission’s recommendation, SB 264 and HB 676 extend the life of TDHCA for 12 more years. The Senate unanimously passed SB 264 early this week. The version of bill which passed included one change to the original one-paragraph bill: the requirement for state elected officials to submit letters of support for Housing Tax Credit Program proposed developments is removed from TDHCA’s statute. SB 264 now moves to the House for consideration. HB 676 has been referred to the House Committee on Urban Affairs but has not yet had a hearing.

Budget Issues

The House Appropriations Committee approved the TDHCA Budget for the 2004-05 biennium last week, reducing administration by some $1.2 million, reducing the agency's FTE cap from 323 to 313, and requiring the agency to find funding for the Emergency Nutrition Temporary Emergency Relief Program by zeroing out the line item (approximately $750,000). In its efforts to identify funds with which to meet the state’s critical needs, the Senate Finance Committee reduced Housing Trust Fund appropriations by $3 million over the biennium and zeroed out System Benefit Funded (SBF)-Low Income programs. The Finance Committee left pending decisions on TDHCA budget riders related to the SBF, the colonia self-help centers and the Homeowners Recovery Fund. The Senate is also considering adding a rider to TDHCA’s budget that addresses multifamily concentration issues.

Other Legislative Activities

In addition to TDHCA’s Sunset and Budget legislation a number of bills have been introduced that could affect TDHCA programs or state affordable housing policy.

For example, a number of bills have been proposed this session to change the Housing Tax Credit (HTC) application process. HB 428 by Representative Callegari would remove the requirement for TDHCA to evaluate the level community support for a HTC application based on written statements of support from local and state elected officials, a move also added as an amendment to SB 264. HB 1632 by Mercer, HB 2566 by Paxton and HB 2617 by Mowery also propose changes to the HTC application requirements.

Proposed legislation that could affect affordable housing policy include SB 1584, HB 1044, HB 2617 and HB 3546, all of which address the Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) tax exemption; and SB 1474, which addresses discrimination against affordable housing developments.

Following are some of the additional bills which may have an impact on the Department or its subgrantees:

SB 654 (Shapleigh) The bill requires TDHCA, the Texas Department of Economic Development, and the Texas Finance Commission to jointly prepare a biennial strategic plan relating to access to capital in underserved areas.

SB 999 (West) The bill establishes a reserve account that funds necessary repairs for multifamily rental housing developments.

SB 1002/HB 2308 (West/Jones) The bill expands the prohibition on submitting an application to include an applicant that proposes to construct a new development that is located one mile or less from a development that serves the same type of households as the new development.

SB 1077 (Shapleigh) The bill creates a down payment assistance program at TDHCA for individuals and families of low income who would otherwise remain in substandard colonias.

SB 1591 (West) The bill relates to reasonable and evidence-based community opposition to state funded affordable housing developments and possible remediation for documented community impacts of affordable housing concentrations.

SB 1592 (West) The bill relates to the allocation of the state ceiling among issuers of qualified residential rental project bonds.

SB 1660 (Madla) The bill removes revenue bonds available exclusively to TDHCA for reservation of residential rental project bonds from being issued without first securing the approval of the Bond Review Board.

SB 1664 (Averitt) The bill relates to private activity bonds.

HB 1417 (Christian) The bill requires a state agency to promptly notify a member of the Legislature of an agency’s decision to award a grant in the member’s district.

HB 1667 (J. Jones) The bill establishes a home repair fund. It requires TDHCA to use the funds to award grants to nonprofit organizations that provide housing repair services to “elderly individuals of low income.”

HB 2055 (Christian) The bill removes securing the approval of the Bond Review Board on qualified residential rental bond projects.

HB 2473 (Callegari) The bill makes changes to how Private Activity Bonds are allocated.

HB 2541 (Menendez) The bill establishes the Texas Affordable Housing Partnership Program and the Texas Affordable Housing Assistance Trust Fund.

HB 2690 (Keffer) The bill relates to the allocation of housing trust funds among uniform state service regions.

For more information, contact TDHCA's Center for Housing Research, Planning, and Communications at (512) 475-3976.