San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

June 17th, 2010
San Marcos leaders not sure where to spend housing funds


The City of San Marcos has a problem not many people can sympathize with — they have $150,000 and are not sure where to spend it.

The city council rejected a plan Tuesday to buy a house at 303 Cordeo Dr. as part of a Neighborhood Stabilization Program Grant. The grant, originally part of the 2009 economic stimulus package, is $450,000 provided to the city through the state to purchase three foreclosed homes and renovate them. The city would then sell the homes to lower-income families in need of a house.

“This truly becomes an affordable house for someone who needs an affordable house,” said Chuck Swallow, planning development director,

But Mayor Susan Narvaiz and council members doubted whether this particular home, or any in San Marcos, fit the intended purpose of the program. For a home to qualify it has to be foreclosed, and Narvaiz said San Marcos does not have many foreclosed homes.

“It’s a very positive things,” Swallow said. “The economy in San Marcos has held well, compared to other communities.”

Swallow said the reason San Marcos initially received the funds is because “you couldn’t anticipate how many foreclosures there would be” when the economy worsened in 2009.

One of the problems with the house is it’s just too nice — it doesn’t need any renovations, except for a new refrigerator. Part of the intended purpose of the grant is to employ workers in the down economy. Furthermore, the renovated houses would, in theory, also alleviate depressed neighborhoods caused by run-down homes depreciating property values. If the house is not run down, council members wondered, would the city purchasing it help the neighborhood?

“This one (house) doesn’t have all those components,” Narvaiz said.

The city has purchased two houses with the grant money provided by the state. Swallow said the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs gave San Marcos favorable feedback in the city’s previous use of the funds, saying it and San Angelo are the highest-performing recipients of the funds.

Councilmember Kim Porterfield said making homes affordable to families who are unable to afford a home is key to her. The program does allow families into higher quality houses than they otherwise would be able to afford, said Swallow.

Because the council did not approve the purchase of the house, Swallow said the department will continue looking for a home to purchase. Once one is found and approved for resale the department takes in applications from families.

The original deadline to commit the funds was May 31, but the city received an extension on that deadline to the middle of August. If the city does not use the funds the state may take the money back.

Narvaiz said she believes the entire council is in favor of affordable housing, but said this house did not fulfill the intent.

“Maybe this program wasn’t the one for us,” Narvaiz said. “Using tax dollars just to use them, if it wasn’t the intent, is the question for me at the end of the day.”

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One thought on “San Marcos leaders not sure where to spend housing funds

  1. I have a wild and crazy idea. The money comes from the taxpayers. Let’s just send it back and admit that we don’t have a really good reason to spend it. Who knows? This might start a trend.

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