Fort Worth City Council delays vote on new tax abatement policy

04/08/2014 9:02 PM

04/08/2014 9:51 PM

The Fort Worth City Council delayed voting Tuesday on a proposal to change a tax abatement policy in an effort to make more money available for housing to serve the city’s poorest residents.

The city’s previous policy gave tax credits to developers who set aside 20 percent of their project for residents who are living at 60 to 80 percent of the area’s median income, or $39,480 to $52,650 a year for a family of four.

Developers now have the option to pay $200 per year per apartment during the agreement’s term rather than providing affordable-housing units in the complex, contingent on council approval for each development. The money will go to the Fort Worth Housing Finance Corp. trust fund.

The $200 payout is based on the average subsidy given to developers to fill the gap between market rents and the required affordable rents in the current policy. That money would be deposited in the housing trust fund to pay for projects aimed at the lowest-income families.

Fort Worth needs nearly 17,000 units for those living at 30 percent of the median income, or $19,750 for a family of four, city officials have said.

The council previously approved two agreements using this new policy in February by granting exceptions.

Last week, Councilwoman Kelly Allen Gray said she was worried that the change will delay addressing an urgent need for affordable housing. She also expressed concern about how many projects must be approved before the trust fund has enough money to build new housing.

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