It’s no secret that there’s a shortage of affordable housing. In Georgetown, they're hoping a new development will help curb the problem.
The Housing Authority in Georgetown believes there’s a deficit of almost 4,500 affordable homes or apartments, according to a study they did back in 2012.
"I believe that's true or even above that,” said Nikki Brenna, the Executive director of the Georgetown Housing Authority.
She said several people are forced to live outside of the city, even if they work in Georgetown.
"It's just very hard to work in Georgetown and live here, too,” said Brennan. "They do go closer to Jarrell, Florence, Granger in this area."
Along Williams Drive, one of the most concentrated parts of Georgetown for homes, a new neighbor is moving in an affordable apartment complex.
"We want them to be able to live, work and retire here,” said Walt Doering. "Home is the, and a healthy house, is the foundation for everything else for the family."
Doering has worked to get more affordable housing in the area, like the Live Oak apartment complex which broke ground Tuesday.
"I recognize the real need of those who do not have safe, doable, healthy housing," said Doering. "If we want to have people who can sustain themselves, then they need affordable housing."
Doering has been on Housing Advisory board for about five years and said affordable housing is important for the area’s work force.
"We need to realize that as we continue to grow so rapidly, as we have been, that we need these workers, and because we need these workers, we also need housing affordability,” said Doering. "They're the workers in our community, they're the backbone of our community and our economic system, and without them, we couldn't have the local economy or the quality of life we have."
The 108 units at Live Oak will all be income restricted.
The units will be available to households in the following income brackets:
• 50 percent (54) to families with household income at or below 60 percent AMI (area median income)
• 40 percent (43) to families with household income at or below 50 percent AMI
• 10 percent (11) to families with household income at or below 30 percent AMI
The complex will be a mixture of one, two and three bedroom apartments.
The expected breakdown is:
• 36 – One Bedroom
• 60 – Two Bedroom
• 12 – Three Bedroom
So a family of four with a household income of about $40,000 could rent a two-bedroom apartment for about $800 a month.
"So it’s going to go by what your income is,” said Brennan.
The developer told KVUE the prices may change by leasing time, but as of now, one-bedroom units will go for $383, $689 and $841 under the three income brackets. Two-bedroom units will rent for $457, $824 and $1,007 and three-bedroom units will rent for $523, $947 and $1,158.
Brennan said they currently have 745 people on a wait list for affordable housing and said it's a growing problem.
"We have many, many families moving into Georgetown every day,” said Brennan.
Brennan said the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,195 but said that can be difficult to find.
"If you're only making $30,000 to $60,000, you can't afford anything higher than $1,195,” said Brennan.
To give an example of the problem, Brennan said the Section 8 housing program is closed. The last time they opened it for applications was in 2011 for seven hours. In that time, 568 people signed up. According to Brennan, 307 of those are still on the wait list today.
"We get calls every day,” said Brennan. “We get about 25 applicants on each program every day."
With the Section 8 program, Brennan said typically the tenant can go to any private rental under the median rent price of $1,195.
"They can't go to the standard market rent place because they only have $1,195 to find a two-bedroom, and that includes utilities,” said Brennan. "So if they can't find something less than that, then they can’t have their voucher."
She said the Section 8 tenant will pay about 30 percent of the rent and the housing authority will pay the rest to the private rental company.
"As it gets populated more and more, we have more people calling in,” said Brennan. “Less housing, even our Section 8 vouchers are having a difficult time finding market rate properties, because there's not enough affordable housing."
As the population has grown, she said they’ve also gotten a new type of call.
"We have several homeless calls which we haven't experienced in the past,” said Brennan.
And the tough market isn’t restricted to rentals.
"Housing is, you can't find a property less than $250,000," said Brennan.
"It's hard now to address that need on the owner occupied side, with the growing construction costs, land costs, the planning processes, etcetera,” said Doering.
Back to the new development, the Live Oak complex is one of three private affordable housing projects starting construction this year. Each made possible through tax credits.
The other two are Kaia Pointe, which will be located at 104 Gatlin Creek Drive, and Merritt Heritage Senior Village, which will be located near 4700 Williams Drive. Kaia Pointe will have 102 total units, and 80 income restricted. Merritt Heritage Senior Village, will have 244 total units all for those over the age of 55, and 122 income restricted.
Georgetown city officials told KVUE that in the past 10 years there have been 10 to 15 tax credit apartment projects, including both new construction or rehabilitation of existing tax credit complexes.
But it doesn’t seem to be enough.
"We are, have a deficit of housing in Georgetown," said Brennan. "Realize there is a need in Georgetown, and we all need to get together and figure out how we can fix that."
But Brennan hopes this growing inventory will help.
The Live Oak Apartment Complex developer said construction should be done by the fall of next year and they will begin pre-leasing next summer.
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