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Neighbors delay Council’s recommendation of tax credits for affordable housing project 

Friday, June 4, 2021 by Jonathan Lee

Due to neighborhood concerns, Fox Hollow, an affordable housing project at 2117 Brandt Road in Southeast Austin, will have to wait two more months for City Council to recommend the project for the state’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit program.

Most LIHTC projects sail through Council. Six such projects, including three from the same Louisville, Kentucky-based developer as Fox Hollow, were recommended unanimously at yesterday’s meeting. But this case proved different. 

Nine neighbors, some armed with a slideshow showing encampments on the site and dangerous driving behavior on Brandt Road, signed up to speak against the project. The applicant, LDG Development, yielding to neighborhood concerns, requested the postponement to July 29.

Without Council’s recommendation, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs won’t grant projects the requested 4 percent tax credits.

The LIHTC program helps affordable housing projects become financially viable by offering tax credits to investors. A city memo describes the program’s benefits:

Tax credit developments help ease the shortage of affordable rental housing, attract private investment in affordable housing, and create jobs with an economic multiplier effect that lasts beyond the end of construction. … The LIHTC program has been and will be a significant contributor to the city meeting its affordable housing production goals.

According to neighbors, the project would cause many problems: flooding, unacceptable levels of traffic on Brandt Road, encroachment on the privacy of nearby single-family homes, eviction of people living in tents on the site, and the destruction of wild space.

Jon Iken, a neighbor, displayed pictures of car crashes and dangerous driving on Brandt Road and said building apartments on a “deteriorating” road is “undeniably ludicrous.” He also showed a picture of an encampment on the site. “How will they keep the property clear of transient camps?” he asked.

David Winkler, who also lives near the site, decried the potential bulldozing of trees and wetland. “You’re talking about such a beautiful property, with so much wildlife and so much potential for natural enjoyment. I just can’t think of anything more inappropriate than putting up another apartment complex there,” he said. Winkler added that the area is already “saturated” with apartment complexes and does not need more. 

Neighbor Debbi Maynor said that the apartments, proposed to be built within 300 feet of single-family homes, would “remove all sense of security and privacy for homeowners.” Maynor also said that the proposed 1.5 parking spaces per unit is not enough, noting that there are no public transit options nearby.

“Put simply, this property is not consistent with multifamily development,” Winkler said.

The developer did not get a chance to weigh in at the meeting, but will get a chance to do so when applying to rezone the site – currently Rural Residence (RR) – to allow multifamily housing.

Image courtesy of LDG Development.

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