Exposing How Publicly Subsidized Housing in Texas Encourages Segregation

Texas has come under scrutiny for a pattern of developing low-income housing projects in areas already suffering from poverty and blight. Karisa King describes how the NIMBY mentality is reinforced by the subsidization system.
April 24, 2012, 6am PDT | jerinbrent
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A recent analysis by the Texas Tribune and The San Antonio Express News has found that subsized apartment developments have been disproportionately built in non-white areas throughout Texas. Low income housing tax credit programs are designed to break up concentrations of poverty and facilitate affordable housing in safe neighborhoods with access to jobs, good schools and transportation.

Plans to build low-income complexes in affluent neighborhoods are rarely met with open arms by existing residents. A recent proposal to build a 68-unit apartment building for low-income seniors near the fashionable neighborhood of Stone Oak was shut down after three short months of citizen outcry. President of the Mount Arrowhead Homeowners Association, Francisco Martinez, described their opposition this way:

"These are single-family homes. Anything that takes away from that takes away from why we bought into it."

It's not that developers don't understand the mission of the tax credit programs. Competition for subsidies is tight, though, and approval is based on a point system. "Community Support" is the second highest point-getter when projects are scored. Jennifer Gonzales, executive director of the Alamo Area Mutual Housing Association admits:

"Usually your more organized neighborhoods and communities are ones that have more resources, and those are the ones that are going to get organized more quickly if they don't want you there. We just don't even go there."

Thanks to Jessica Brent

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Published on Monday, April 23, 2012 in Texas Tribune
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