For thousands of Texas seniors living on fixed incomes, the housing tax credit program is a godsend. The program builds more clean, new and safe apartments for Texas seniors living on a fixed income than any other housing effort. And it’s an effort that is growing.
“The sheer need for affordable, safe senior housing in communities across the state has really driven a change,” said Tanya Lavelle, policy director at the Texas Affiliation of Affordable Housing Providers. “In the past, family-geared developments received higher application scores than those that served seniors. Now they are scored evenly.”
Tax credit-financed developments are also less likely to draw uninformed “Not In My Backyard” (NIMBY) opposition, Lavelle said. That combination has encouraged private developers to apply for tax credits for more and more senior housing projects in Texas. Lavelle points to the competitive housing tax credits awarded for 2016. Of the final 66 applications, 29 (out of 125 total) were for senior housing projects. All three of the developments approved in Lubbock and Amarillo were for seniors. The single application approved for Abilene was for senior housing. And in more urban Harris and Fort Bend Counties, three of the seven applications approved were for senior housing.
“The need is great and, unlike many affordable housing developments, there is less community opposition for most senior developments,” Lavelle said.
Lavelle said that most community opposition to affordable housing comes from outdated perceptions of government housing projects. Apartment complexes financed with housing tax credits are privately owned, held to higher standards than government–funded projects, and are similar in appearance and construction to privately financed apartment complexes. Financing with federal tax credits, however, helps keep the rents low for families who qualify.