HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — More affordable housing options are coming to Hays County after commissioners voted to join the Texas Housing Foundation, a public housing authority.
“We’re able to put a lot of multifamily development down on the ground,” Texas Housing Foundation President and CEO Mark Mayfield said.
Mayfield said it’s already a part of Williamson County, Llano County, Bastrop County, Blanco County and Burnet County.
“Everyone has to have a place to live,” Mayfield said. “That’s why we exist is to try to create those opportunities.”
While many said it’s a step in the right direction, some housing advocates are pushing for more.
Low-income housing needs
George Barbour never thought he’d see the day he’d have his own apartment.
“I didn’t have nowhere to go, no source of income and I didn’t know anybody. I ended up living in the woods,” Barbour said.
He was homeless and his health was deteriorating.
“I just kept getting sicker and sicker,” Barbour said. “The city found me in the woods.”
He’d eventually get help from HOME Center, an organization assisting people experiencing homelessness.
It took more than two years to find him low-income housing in Hays County.
Barbour’s case worker Wesley Matthews said those delays are common.
“We’re running into a waitlist wherever we go and that’s the problem. There’s not enough of that available,” Matthews said.
Mayfield said the Texas Housing Foundation would try to reach people in the 60% to 80% of area median income, which he said is the majority of the workforce within communities.
According to the City of San Marcos’ website, 80% in a two-person household would be $70,600.
Matthews said that income bracket is still on the higher end. Instead, he’d like to see more public housing options and Section 8 housing vouchers.
He said those low-income resources are what ultimately got Barbour his home.
“I just feel like I’ve got hope now,” Barbour said.
Pause on housing vouchers
The San Marcos Housing Authority told KXAN its waitlist for Section 8 housing vouchers is closed and has been since 2016.
However, it said if someone has a voucher from another housing authority, it can accept a transfer.
It does not know when the waitlist will open back up.