The Texas House-Representing Voters or Subsidized Developers?
by Kelly Horsley on July 2, 2014 at 10:18 AM
The other night at The MET Youth Building, State Representative Allen Fletcher faced a crowd of over 500 concerned, and might I add, a tad angry, constituency. The source of their anger? Two projected low-income housing units to be built in the Cypress area; one at Queenston and W. Little York called the Catalon, the other to the north of 290 near the Ravensway subdivision, named The Lodge of Huffmeister.
On hand to kick things off was James Hardin, president of The Cypress Coalition. He and his wife, Barbara Hardin have started this group in order to fight the possible construction of these two facilities. James had this to say about the reason they decided to start this group, "We had heard about the low income housing on Channel 13, and we recognized the need to do something about this situation. We signed the Change.org petition and decided we needed to go one step further and chose to do a townhall. We set up the meeting and never in our wildest dreams did we think that there would be 500 people in attendance. We then started thinking that we should have a coalition like Cy-Fair and we are in the process of setting up The Cypress Coalition in order to be proactive instead of reactive for future developments in and around our community." Kay Smith, president of Texas Tea Party Republican Women was also there to help introduce the concept of the housing and information on how concerned citizens can put a stop to these projects going forward.
Nathan Kelly with Blazer Development was also on hand to debunk any and all misinformation that the public may have had about said projects. Although, by the end of the meeting, I think he had been debunked. When you boil it down, all he had were talking points and they were delivered as such. Representative Fletcher took his share of the 'heat' as well. There was a line at the microphone to share and express concerns from the group. One of the most popular questions was, "Why weren't we informed of this?"
The concerns that were brought to the floor were all pretty similar, mostly about property value and the potential for the crime rate to go up after said housing is built and filled with subsidized residents, not to mention the potential strain placed on already overcrowded schools and a short staffed police force. Some residents wanted to know why they hadn't been informed of this. Good question. So, Representative Fletcher responded in his defense, that he really felt he had done due diligence on his part by having met with the developer and had checked into it and he said he saw no problem signing on to having these projects built. Once he heard that his constituency was upset with his decision, he said he would recant his decision to support it. There were various responses to this, but I think my favorite was a lady named Lynn, a resident of Enchanted Valley. She had this to say directly to Representative Fletcher, and I'm paraphrasing here, "Shame on you! Think about all the money you raised to get reelected! You should have used that money to send out information to the residents to let them know. Shame on me for voting for you!" Good point.
Here's the frustrating part, besides all that has already been mentioned: the developer doesn't really care about your individual concerns and your property values. That's why this is done on a points system run by a large state agency called TDHCA. They approve low-income/affordable housing projects based on a complex system of points. Sadly, in the last legislative session, the state senate decided to do away with their “voting/veto” points on such matters, leaving them no sway or say in these project developments and now the House of Representatives of the State of Texas has eight points, which is enough to kill a project, if the representative should choose to write a letter of disapproval. There are points held by the following entities, so if you care about this, these are some of the important people to contact:
-MUD 61 JF-Hofman
The only other quantifiable community participation is with a coalition, which, thanks to James and Barbara Hardin, Cy-Fair has now.
Call Representative Fletcher at 281-373-5454. Call the developer Chris Richardson at 713-914-9200 or email him at Blazer1@blazerbuilding.com. Also, a matter of public record is the owners of the property, Edgar and Janis Lester and if you feel so inclined, you may call them at 713-629-2300 or email at ED.Lester@Stewart.com. This is far from over, so if you are concerned and want to get involved, this is your chance!