SAN MARCOS (Texas)– Some relief may be coming for hundreds of families struggling to afford rent in San Marcos.
It offers tax exemption for developers in exchange for meeting certain requirements, like building ADA accessible units, partnering with local agencies and offering transportation for residents.
Council members finally approved the first two developments under their new plan earlier this month.
Albert Sierra with the San Marcos Housing Authority says it’s much needed.
“There’s almost nobody,” Sierra says.
He says there are only a handful of affordable housing properties in the area and they’re almost always at capacity.
“Our Section 8 program has 228 units and the waiting list for that one today is about 280 families waiting. For that person who is at the bottom of the waiting list, it will take them about three years to be able to move in,” Sierra says.
He says as many as 30,000 people qualify for affordable housing in San Marcos.
Now, two new developments are on their way: Lantana on Bastrop and Redwood, totaling more than 550 units.
“It’s astronomical to be able to fit that need. This is why we think that if we do what we’re doing with this property that we will be able to help make a dent to assist that population,” Sierra says.
Jake Brown, LDG Development manager, says construction could begin on Redwood as soon as fall.
Both developments are expected to be complete around 2022.
“It’s been a heck of a process to get to this point,” Brown says.
The city has been fine-tuning it’s new plan with both developers for months.
In exchange for tax credits, Redwood developers will pay the city 75,000 dollars a year.
“We can say, ‘Okay, we’re still receiving that 100% property tax exemption but we’re still going to be able to give back to the City of San Marcos annually. So they’ve got something that basically allowed them to recoup some of the property taxes that they might’ve lost,” Brown says.
The Housing Authority will get about $1.4 million from Lantana development over the first four years, and the city will get $11,000 per year, as well.
The deals are the first of their kind in San Marcos and, Sierra hopes, not the last.
“The monies that we are receiving from this development is maybe the first of maybe others to come. It allows for us to maintain, rehab and build new construction for affordable units,” Sierra says.
What is affordable housing?
Here’s what affordable housing means in San Marcos:
The housing authority says fair market value for a one bedroom apartment is about $900 a month.
Through a low income tax credit program, like the ones being developed now, that rent comes down to about $500 a month.
“It’s a big difference. It’s a whole lot better than the fair market rates that we have established in our community. Sometimes private developers have rents that are even higher than that,” Sierra says.
The city of San Marcos won’t have any oversight on these new affordable housing properties.
It says that falls on the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
The agency says it will physically inspect the buildings through construction and then three years after they are finished.
They will also follow up on complaints.
The agency also conducts yearly audits to make sure renters aren’t being overcharged.
Sierra says since the Housing Authority is a co-developer with Lantana, they plan to provide a second round of scrutiny to make sure Lantana is honoring its commitments.