Texas Fair Housing Analysis

Public Input Provided in 2012

Input to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA)

June 15, 2012

Responses to questions from Myndi Swanson (Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs) by Belinda Carlton (Public Policy Specialist Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities) are as follows:

  1. Swanson: Besides yourself, to whom do you refer questions or concerns relating to fair housing choice or impediments to housing? (This can be within TCDD or other State agencies).
    • Carlton: Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities Housing Resources.
  2. Swanson: In what areas of business at your agency/commission is fair housing a topic that is addressed? Are there areas where it needs to be addressed and why?
    • Carlton: Fair housing is addressed at TCDD in public policy advocacy before state and federal agencies and the legislature.
  3. Swanson: In those areas, how is fair housing addressed? What kinds of activities exist around fair housing?
    • Carlton: Interaction and input through stakeholder and advisory meetings; monitoring and commenting on actions and proposals by the boards of TDHCA and Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation; working with other housing advocates on fair housing issues and monitoring and providing information on legislative activity.
  4. Swanson: Who else should we contact that you interact with about the issue of fair housing in your agency or within state government?
    • Carlton:
      • Jean Langendorf, Jlangendorf@eastersealstx.com, United Cerebral Palsy Association
      • Kevin Jewell, kevin@texashousing.org, Texas Low Income Housing Information Service
      • Gyl Switzer, gyl@mhatexas.org, Mental Health America Texas
      • Robin Peyson, rpeyson@namitexas.org, National Alliance for Mental Illness Texas
      • Chase Bearden, chase.bearden@gmail.com, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities
      • Jennifer McPhail, jennifer.adapt@sbcglobal.net, ADAPT of Texas
      • Dianna Lewis, dianna.lewis@csh.org, Corporation for Supportive Housing
  5. Swanson: To your knowledge, have there been any decisions by a state board/commission/committee that have had a negative effect on minorities and persons with disabilities?
    • Carlton:
      • Affordability: TDHCA’s activities fail to reach Texans living on fixed income programs. TDHCA presently tracks three categories of low income households: Low Income: those earning 80% AMFI or below; Very Low Income: those earning 50% AMFI or below; and Extremely Low Income: those earning 30% AMFI or below. These categories are used to evaluate the housing needs of households within different income strata. These categories are also used for program targeting. When used for targeting, the income thresholds chosen for the categories are crucial to the actual allocation, as funds targeted at a given income group are typically claimed by the highest income household within a group. While AMFI varies by area, federal SSI benefits are often 16% of AMFI or less. Those Texans living on SSI can be more difficult to locate, contact, and market to than their higher income counterparts, and programs for such fixed income households must be structured differently than those designed for higher income households. For these reasons, money earmarked for below 30% AMFI largely goes to the population nearest the 30% threshold, leaving a large portion of the state’s lowest income housing need unmet. In Texas 14.5 percent have disabilities. Over 437,000 have developmental disabilities. Approximately 2.6% and 2.8% of adults have serious mental illness. An estimated 10.2% are over 65 years old. Failure to provide housing affordable to people with developmental and/or mental health disabilities or frail elderly impedes the success of state health and human services programs to serve individuals in their communities rather than nursing homes, ICF-MR institutions and state mental hospitals that consume a disproportionate share of limited public resources. TDHCA needs to set a threshold below “Extremely Low,” between 0 and 110% of the level of SSI, will allow the State to monitor, plan for, and allocate resources to groups that are identified by state housing programs as special needs priorities, but currently slipping through the cracks of our housing and human service programs.
      • Board Composition: Texas local government codes governing housing authorities provides for the appointment of at least one board member who is a recipient of the public housing authority (as also required by federal laws governing public housing: the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 act requires that the board of directors of a PHA include at least one member who is directly assisted by the PHA). There is also need to have board representation to address the issues facing residents of small rural communities, people with disabilities and those receiving housing assistance in Texas. The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs board operates as a public housing authority and does not have a consumer representative. The board should have consumer representatives from public housing, as well as rural areas, people with disabilities and housing voucher recipients designated in statute in a manner which ensures the positions do not remain empty indefinitely.
      • NIMBYism: TDHCA and the Texas Legislature need to address NIMBYism caused by neighborhood association opposition to low-income development. The scoring algorithm for the TDHCA Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program results in neighborhood associations in high-income, low poverty areas preventing developments in their area. TDCHA and the state must address the extent to which neighborhood “letters” are an impediment to fair housing. TDHCA must provide clear guidance to providers of letters in support or opposition to a tax credit development that TDHCA has an obligation to affirmatively further fair housing.
      • Segregated Development: At TDHCA we are seeing a greater priority given to elderly housing. While this is physically accessible rental housing is accessible it is not available to young people with disabilities and it falls under segregated models including “elderly” or “disabled” or “group home.”
      • Single Residence Development: TDHCA is also heavily subsidizing single residence occupancy developments (SRO). HUD intends them to be used for homeless and transient populations but Texas is building them as low-income housing opportunity. While more attractive financially to developers SROs, these lowest forms of housing opportunity without kitchens, a single living area and restriction to one occupant still do not usually reach individuals at 16% AMFI. TDHCA should not promote the development of SRO’s as a replacement for full size units with kitchens, bedrooms, kitchens, usual amenities and the opportunity for to socialize within their home with family, friends and/or have roommates.
  6. Swanson: What is the best way that city/county/state leaders can encourage more accessible and visitable housing for people with disabilities, if it is needed?
    • Carlton: Expansion of visitability ordinances across Texas cities, as we have in Austin and Texas statute would encourage more accessible and visitable housing.
  7. Swanson: Do you feel that limited or lack of public transportation limits where people with disabilities can live? Where should transportation be provided that it is not?
    • Carlton : Texas is experiencing the flight of individuals with disabilities in rural Texas to urban areas for access to public transportation, services and employment opportunity. Federal, state, and local transportation funds can be used to create transportation options that encourage linkages between affordable housing and transportation. Texas state housing, human services and transportation agencies need to collaborate to address the need for an adequately responsive rural public transit system.
  8. Swanson: Do you feel that social services are located in areas where people with disabilities can easily access them? If not, where are they missing?
    • Carlton: Texas is a very large state so it is impossible to locate services within a short distance for everyone. However, decisions on development of low-income tax credit properties should always factor in location and access to services, shopping and medical care. Housing and human services advocates are aware of the need for service-enriched housing, transit oriented housing and an increase public transportation to address the need for access to services but these have not reached public policy priority status in Texas.
  9. Swanson: Does the location of social services influence the housing options of people with disabilities?
    • Carlton: Yes
  10. What types of programs are available to make accessibility improvements to single and multifamily homes? (for owners or renters or both)
    • Carlton: State and local authorities have barrier removal programs. TDHCA has the Amy Young
  11. Swanson: What are the greatest strengths of your programs? Weaknesses? What would you change if you could to better meet the needs of persons with disabilities (e.g., make a loan program into a grant program)?
    • Carlton: TCDD is not a housing program.
  12. Swanson:What types of outreach mediums are used to market the programs? Is the marketing targeted to areas with persons with disabilities and/or seniors?
    • Carlton: N/A
  13. Swanson: For each of the programs, could you provide me with the number of people who have participated in the program in 2011?
    • Carlton: N/A
  14. Swanson:If possible, can you provide 5-year (2007-2011) data on the number of program participants?
    • Carlton: N/A
  15. May we get examples of the types of materials used to explain and market the programs?
    • Carlton: N/A
  16. Swanson: If you could expand your accessibility modification program(s), what would you do? How much would this cost?
    • Carlton: N/A
  17. Swanson: In your opinion, how much unmet demand exists for accessibility modification programs in your market area(s)? (Define market area(s): town/city/county/state).
    • Carlton: Do not have that data.
  18. Swanson: Do you have any recommendations related to how the State should monitor, encourage and work with its subrecipients and municipal governments to mitigate fair housing barriers and take corrective actions?
    • Carlton: No.