TDHCA Earns Strong Vote of Confidence from Sunset Advisory Commission
Department’s “Commendable Effort” Cited in Implementing Change
(AUSTIN-1/15/03) Hailing “a remarkable turnaround,” the Sunset Advisory Commission today unanimously voted to continue the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) for another 12 years, effectively giving the Department a strong vote of confidence for both its mission and implementation of significant program changes called for by the previous Legislature.
The Commission, composed of members of the Texas Legislature as well as two public members, voted in 2001 to continue TDHCA for a two-year probationary period after its initial Sunset review, agreeing to evaluate the Department’s implementation of Senate Bill 322 (TDHCA’s Sunset bill) in 2003. Sunset Advisory Commission staff reviewed the Department’s implementation efforts and progress during fall 2002 and determined that TDHCA had “significantly improved since its last review and has displayed commendable effort to implement the changes adopted by the Legislature.”
The Sunset Advisory Commission in December 2002 reviewed staff findings and accepted public comment on the Department before voting today to accept the Commission’s staff recommendation to continue the Department for 12 more years. In its December report, the Commission staff report recognized the Department’s “commendable effort” to achieve reform outlined in its Sunset bill.
“We are extremely pleased with the vote the Sunset Commission made today,” said Edwina Carrington, TDHCA Executive Director. “The staff and governing board of the Department made a sincere and determined effort to satisfy the criteria the Commission established for the Department’s continuation, and it is gratifying to know that Commission members recognized that effort. We acknowledge, however, that the task is never complete; TDHCA will continue to work with housing advocates and members of the Legislature to reach our goal of being a model state housing finance and community affairs agency.”
The Sunset Advisory Commission reviews each state agency at least once each 12 years to ensure each is meeting its mission, eliminate duplication of effort, and make certain state resources are used effectively and to the greatest degree of efficiency.
During its review of the Department in 1999-2000, the Sunset Commission found a strong need for TDHCA’s mission of funding affordable housing development and community support services for low-income households. However, the Legislature voted to continue TDHCA for two years, rather than 12, pending the Department’s ability to implement program changes revolving around public accountability.
These changes, outlined in Senate Bill 322, totaled 81 provisions requiring action on the part of TDHCA. The Department has implemented 90 percent of these measures, with the remaining 10 percent awaiting additional data from the 2000 US Census before implementation.
“I am also grateful for the outstanding leadership from the Department’s governing board as we worked toward achieving this reform,” said Carrington. “The board played a major role in the process.”
In its initial conclusion of the Department’s efforts, the Sunset staff reported that, “given the magnitude of the reforms initiated by the Legislature, coupled with the significant changes in the direction of the agency’s leadership, the Department appears well positioned to serve Texas’ housing needs into the future.”
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs is Texas’ lead agency responsible for affordable housing, public and energy assistance programs, and colonia activities. The Department annually administers funds in excess of $400 million, the majority of which is derived from mortgage revenue bond financing and refinancing, federal grants, and federal tax credits.