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Fort Worth City Council delays action new tax abatement policy

The Fort Worth City Council on Tuesday decided to delay a vote on a tax abatement policy that is an effort to make more money available for housing to serve the city’s poorest residents.

The city’s current policy gives 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 would 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 $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 Fort Worth Housing Finance Corp. 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 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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