FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 12, 2001
AUSTIN, TX--On Wednesday, April 11, state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, passed Senate Bill 1760 in the full Senate to increase funding for the Housing Trust Fund through a general obligation bond and Senate Joint Resolution 50 to allow for a constitutional amendment on the bond issuance.
"Historically, the state of Texas funds only 1 percent of all housing needs," explained Sen. Lucio. "And this Fund is the sole program funded by the state through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to help provide affordable housing units for low and very low income households."
Sen. Lucio recalls growing up as one of 10 children in a family with limited resources. He said, "During my formative years, I lived in public housing. Through this first-hand experience, I realize how painful it was for my parents to raise a large family without the means to purchase more adequate housing for their children."
The Housing Trust Fund is a statewide program that seeks to allocate funds to achieve a broad geographical distribution of affordable housing. The following are facts on Texas's housing needs:
Texas worst case housing needs are at an all-time high. The number of Texans with worst-case housing needs has reached an all time high of more than 650,000 households. The growth in the number of these households indicates that poor families, particularly those with children, are getting poorer. (Worst case housing needs are defined by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development as families who pay more than one-half of their income on housing or live in severely inadequate housing.)
Poorest Texas families have worst case housing needs. Over 42 percent of Texas families with worst-case housing needs have incomes that are less than 30 percent of the area median family income. That is a yearly income of less than $14,688 for a family of three living in Dallas. Working poor renters are especially hit hard. Over two-thirds of working poor renters live in worst-case housing.
Elderly Texans often have worst case housing needs. There are over 110,000 low-income elderly households in Texas that are worst-case housing situations. These households have little prospects of improving their incomes to be able to afford decent housing.
Many disabled Texans have worst case needs. Forty percent of very low-income households with a worst-case housing situation live with an adult family member with a disability.
More than 329,000 elderly households in the state need housing assistance. Source: 1996 State Low Income Housing Plan, Texas Dept. of Housing & Community Affairs, p. 2-7.
More than 88 percent of poor Texas households with children have at least one major housing problem such as unaffordable rent, physically inadequate housing, or overcrowding. Source: Housing America's Future: Children at Risk. Low Income Housing Information Service, December 1995.
Texas ranks ninth worst nationally in the percent of households with children confronting high housing costs, overcrowding, and lack of complete plumbing or kitchen facilities. Source: Housing America's Future: Children at Risk. Low Income Housing Information Service, December 1995.
78,128 households in Texas lack complete plumbing or kitchen facilities. The cost of providing basic services to these homes is more than $1 billion. Source: 1995 State of Texas Low Income Housing Plan, Texas Dept. of Housing & Community Affairs, p. 51.
44% of Texas colonias households rely on outhouses or cesspools. Source: 1996 State of Texas Consolidated Plan, Texas Dept. of Housing & Community Affairs, p. 55.
Five out of six low income Texas families who qualify for government housing assistance do not receive it because of the shortage of subsidized housing in Texas. Source: US Census and HUD data, 1990.
There are 125,431 families waiting for a vacant unit to become available among the 74,629 public housing units in Texas. This number would be larger had not the largest cities closed their waiting lists years ago. Source: Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, State Low Income Housing Plan
503,119 Texas houses are substandard. Source: Housing Assistance Council, Washington, from 1990 US Census data
Texas' four largest cities rank first through fourth in the nation in the rate of physically deficient low income owner occupied housing. Source: 1995 State Low Income Housing Plan, Texas Dept. of Housing & Community Affairs, p.18.
During this session's Senate Finance Committee hearings, the Department of Housing and Community Affairs requested an increase to the Fund of $100 million in general revenue. Sen. Lucio, a member of the Finance Committee, said he decided to file these measures to augment the Fund because of the state's limited dollars. Last session, two identical measures were unanimously passed out of the Senate and a House committee; however, they died in the House Calendars Committee (along with a number of bills due to the timing of the bill hearings).SB 1760 and SJR 50 are now headed to the House for consideration.
"These two pieces of legislation are a vital centerpiece of a true Border budget," added Sen. Lucio.
Note: Staff member handling legislation is Legislative Director Daniel Esparza.