Dallas Lawmaker Seeks to Take Away Elected Officials’ Influence of LIHTC Projects
Texas State Rep. Eric Johnson recently announced that he plans to file anti-corruption legislation that would halt the practice of soliciting letters from elected officials supporting or opposing housing developments being considered for federal tax credits. The announcement comes after state officials there have faced criminal charges for their involvement in such projects.
The coming legislation is expected to take aim at how the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs determines whether a low-income housing development qualifies for crucial federal tax credits. Under current Texas state law, one criteria that’s considered is letters from elected officials representing the area where the development would be built. A positive letter adds points and a negative letter subtracts points, with city and state officials able to affect different amounts of points.
Johnson said the system has created a temptation for elected officials to accept bribes from development companies that seek to secure tax credits. His predecessor in the House district, Terri Hodge, went to prison for tax evasion related to bribes she received from a development company for, among other things, supporting an affordable housing development. And, recently, four-term Dallas City Council member Carolyn Davis pleaded guilty to accepting more than $40,000 in bribes from a real estate developer in exchange for her support of a low-income housing project seeking tax credits. Davis faces up to five years in federal prison.