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San Marcos City Council denies tax exemption for new affordable housing complex

The San Marcos City Council voted 4-2 against the plan to add 216 units, half of which were affordable housing. The Housing Authority disagrees with the decision.

SAN MARCOS, Texas — The San Marcos City Council voted against a new affordable housing development, and one of the partners on the project says it's a huge loss to the community. However, the city council feels differently.

The council voted Tuesday night 4-2 against the affordable housing complex that would have brought 216 units to San Marcos.

"It's not going to happen, the developer walked out, he said 'I'm finished, I'm not going to do it,'" said Albert Sierra, the director of the San Marcos Housing Authority (SMHA).

The SMHA is the agency that was working with the developer to build the facility.

"I think we had the right information, the right intent, but when it came down to it, it didn't happen," said Sierra.

The proposed site was off Old Bastrop Highway and Rattler Road. Sierra said this would have been a one-of-a-kind facility and it would have given affordable housing to people all the way down to 30% of the average medium income (AMI), which is how they decide what is affordable. 

The plan had 22 units at the 30% mark, an additional 22 at 40%, 60 units at 50% and the remaining 112 at 70% AMI.


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Sierra said the only housing given to people at 30% comes from the housing authority, and this would have been a big step for the community.

"There's nothing that offers housing assistance to people at less than 60, other than the housing authority," he added. 

But the city council disagrees that this was needed.

"We've approved six in the last eight months to a year, that's going to add another maybe 1,200 affordable units," said Councilmember Melissa Derrick on Tuesday's meeting. "Most of our residents are in the 30-40%, maybe 50% that need the housing."  

One of the main reasons Sierra said the council voted against the plan was that around half of the units that would have been here would be at 70% AMI and no longer would be considered affordable.

"The definition of affordable housing is 60%," added Derrick.

The City of San Marcos also has approved 1,876 income-restricted units in the last two years. An additional 812 have been approved by the City but are under the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs approval.

Sierra said their average AMI is under that threshold at 57%, which is why he's left hoping council reconsiders.

"Affordability has been a problem forever," he said.


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