Funds Could Diversify Affordable Housing Options

Two developments intended to help relieve affordable housing needs will see federal funding if the City Council approves the move during its regular meeting Tuesday.

One project would demolish and rebuild 153 units of existing housing at Lexington Manor Apartments, 5201 Kostoryz Road, which serves residents earning between 30 to 60 percent of the area’s median income. It is expected the endeavor will carry a price tag of $23.4 million and include 52 units of Section 8 housing, according to city documents.

The second project is planned for 3501 Airline Road. The $9.5 million Riverstone Apartments would involve the construction of 60 housing units intended to serve seniors, families and individuals making 30, 50 and 60 percent of the area median income. The target market would primarily be working families, said GCM President Henry Flores. Plans do not include Section 8 housing, he added.

Both Lexington Manor and Riverstone apartments were recently awarded $1.8 million in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs tax credits, according to city documents.

The council voted this summer to set aside the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HOME funds for affordable housing complexes that received state tax credits. The action anticipated Tuesday formalizes the appropriation, which would amount to $918,000 for the Lexington Manor Apartments and $900,000 for Riverstone Apartments, according to city documents.

That funding would be committed by the council, acting as the Corpus Christi Community Improvement Corporation, as a loan, said Rudy Bentancourt, community development administrator.

City officials at one point gave grants to such projects, he said. But there’s been a drastic reduction in federal funding, said Bentancourt, who estimated HOME funds distributed to the city dropped by about 50 percent in the past four or five years.

“We changed our direction to do loans so we can recoup these funds ... so they can be reused for affordable housing,” he said.

Affordable housing is sorely needed, officials have said, as the city continues to struggle with providing safe housing for lower-income families whose options have been limited by the tight competition created by the region’s booming economy.

In an open records request filed earlier this year, city leaders received at least two emails from nearby residents who expressed apprehension about the proposed Riverstone Apartments.

John Abbott, who lives about two blocks from the proposed Riverstone site, said Monday he had concerns about the proposition of an affordable housing complex at that location. Traffic is already backing up because of new apartments in the area, he said.

“It’s going to be apartments galore ... I know they’re trying to do better on the roads, but the roads can’t handle it over there,” Abbott said.

He worries the housing units could negatively impact his property value, or bring crime to the neighborhood, and said he was hopeful homeowners will be taken into consideration with the future plans.

City Councilman Rudy Garza Jr. had a different take on the plans, saying he felt Airline Road is capable of handling the traffic. Garza added contemporary affordable housing projects look radically different from the large, industrial-looking complexes popular several decades ago. Affordable housing complexes constructed today assimilate to neighborhoods, he said. “Most, you don’t even know are affordable housing units,” and are well-managed and with landscaping, Garza said.

He added he lives near two affordable housing complexes, and has seen no increase in crime.