Houston Moves on Affordable Housing; The Latest on Lagoons as a Suburban Amenity


Photo of Bellaire: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool


29 Comment

  • re: Day without immigrants ?
    This is one of the dumbest things I’ve seen done since the last time they did this.
    A) Once and for all, good god idiots, *Illegal aliens* are the problem. Not immigrants.
    B) The “immigration” ban is for countries which are known exporters of terrorists, and the list of countries was established well before trump came into office.
    But you know.. narrative and all

  • I don’t think the author of the Texas Monthly property tax article really understands how taxes work. It contains quote like this that go unchallenged:
    “We know there are districts throughout the state that need additional fund to educate their students, but it is the duty of the state to provide those funds, not local property taxpayers.”
    Where does R.G. Ratcliffe think the state gets its money? It all comes from local taxpayers.

  • “I want our low income residents to have housing options,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner in a statement before the vote. “They deserve the right to choose where they want to live.”

    …and others deserve the right to not be forced to pay for others’ housing via their taxes.
    Guys like Turner don’t get that though.

  • Re: property taxes: it’s getting to the point that the State needs to pass a a constitutional amendment and implement a state income tax. The major problem with property taxes is that due to increasing appraisal values, most urban dweller’s tax bill increases 10% every year, year after year. But I doubt the median wage earner’s income goes up 10% each year. Most people receive raises of between 3-5% per annum. Even commercial property owners have a difficult time passing along a 10% or better rent increase to their tenants. If my income were taxed, and rates were held steady, my tax burden would not increase by more than my additional income. That said, I do not foresee the current batch of legislators having the guts to do any type of tax reform in Texas, and thus keep kicking the can down the road. Family members in what are thought of as “high tax” East coast states are always shocked how much more I pay in taxes than they do.

  • Bill- Exactly. They need to call this little waste of time what it really is…an anti Trump protest. The organizers are purposely trying to muddy the water between immigrant and illegal alien. Calling illegal aliens immigrants is a slap to the face to the 1,400 real immigrants who took the oath this week in Houston. They didn’t decide to skip the line. They took the time and effort to come here the right way instead of selfishly breaking the law.

    Curious what a small anti Trump protest has to do with Houston real estate. I’ve noticed a few illegal alien postings popping up the past few days. Your bias is showing, Swamplot staff.

  • @ Shady Heightster: I am in complete agreement with your points about property taxes. The appraisal board almost never fails to increase a capped account by the constitutional limit of 10% year-after-year. If the cap was 20% or 25%, I’m sure it would bump up against those higher numbers.
    But, I have to disagree on a state income tax: I’m glad that there is a constitutional ban on this. Once we open that Pandora’s box, I doubt that rates would “hold steady” as you hope. Most governments always manage to spend all of the dollars given to them (whether on good or bad projects) so they are always wanting to raise the rate. Better to keep that path closed in my opinion.

  • Re: Affordable Housing. If, with respect to the Heritage Apartments project supplanting the one on Fountainview, the City takes existing multifamily housing stock which is already reasonably affordable and makes it nicer but subsidizes it such that it remains affordable, I can see how that might be more politically palatable than building new affordable housing stock…but it doesn’t put very many net additional low-income citizens into high-opportunity zones than already existed there. In fact, it takes a substantial block of land off the market that would’ve been prime for future (near- or medium-term) private redevelopment at a higher density.
    To my eye, the City’s feigned compromise for the Justice Dept. still flouts the spirit of the law and protecting the interests of a bigoted elite.

  • No, you cannot separate legal and illegal immigration. The two often go hand in hand. Many illegal immigrants come to the US to be reunited with family members who came to the US legally. Our immigration system is so messed up that it can take up to a decade to get to the US legally from south of the border. So, people opt to come illegally instead of missing out on seeing their children grow up. You can round everyone up and build Trump walls, but until there is a fair and efficient way for people south of the border to get to the US legally, there will always be illegal immigration.

  • @ShadyHeightster and @WolfBrandChili – the Constitution’s ban on a state income tax hamstrings our “tax mix”. Income taxes are much fairer than property taxes based upon the taxpayers’ ability to pay, but consumption taxes are perhaps even more so. Unfortunately, our elected leaders lack the courage to suggest any major changes to our tax mix (and it would take a ton of courage).
    Glenn Hegar once suggested replacing property taxes with a broad-based consumption tax and was hammered with ads claiming it would require a sales tax increase to 20-25%. That figure might be correct if nothing is done about the tax base. By broadening the tax base to include more services and other categories, the State could see substantial gains in revenue, but I’ve not seen anyone seriously suggest what appears to be the only meaningful option on the table.

  • There is a fair and efficient way. And people do it. If your family member takes the time to do it and you want to be there with them, do it as well.

  • @ Dana-X: I suspect that Turner’s comments were disingenuous to begin with. Up to this point, every action that he has taken on this issue has been very very pro-establishment. I’m sure that he would unilaterally overturn long-established federal laws if he could, but he’s just the mayor of a city, not an American emperor.
    @ Wolf Brand Chili: The appraisal district can raise their appraisal of market value as much as they like in any given year. The tax assessor/collector, a different office, takes that appraisal data and calculates the value that you are assessed on, which can only increase by 10% per year on a homestead-exempt property. It will continue to increase year-after-year until the assessed value catches up to market value. Now remember, a taxing entity makes estimates about the revenues they need for each year and adjusts their tax rate higher or lower to meet projections. Increasing market values are not necessarily a windfall to such an entity. What that means is that this and other adjustments related to exemptions are shifting the property tax burden between property owners; it creates statutory inequity which favors people in a given jurisdiction who are wealthy-enough and established-enough to own their own home; and within that subset, it provides tax relief to people who have grown their home equity most rapidly and punishes those whose home equity is stable or falling or that provide housing to people who do not own homes. There’s absolutely nothing fair about that.
    Re: Property Taxes. Consider that that sales taxes in Texas exempt purchases of certain goods and services, including real property; and yet, housing is the largest category of household consumption, and certainly a very large fraction of expenditures on luxury or personal comforts would fall under that heading and rightly should be subject to taxation. You can think of property taxes as a kind of annual sales tax on the imputed rental value of real and business personal property because — in an efficient market — price, rent, and utility should closely correlate. That is ideally how it should be structured (and if one wanted to make it progressive, it would be as simple as providing stepped exemptions up to certain value thresholds).
    By contrast, taxing housing at the point of sale dis-incentivizes frequent transactions; it’s bad enough with cars, but with housing it really would distort the market. Also, contracts to sell real property often require complex adjustments that would probably ultimately be just as onerous as the existing property tax system. Impact fees on new construction are a way of taxing housing as a consumption item, but that drives up the cost of housing more generally over time and is potentially very regressive.
    And then there are income taxes… The premise that a person should be taxed based upon what they make for society rather than what they take from society is so incredibly stupid and shortsighted and I cannot fathom why anybody who is a member of the workforce and not an attorney or an accountant should ever promote them except to parrot vapid political propaganda. The rallying cry that they are progressive is entirely false. They are only progressive if designed as such and the same is true of other forms of taxation.

  • Old School- Maybe you can’t separate illegal alien from legal immigrant, but I can. Your lame excuses and sob stories are falling on deaf ears, sorry. We will get this problem under control. We have 15,000,000+ reasons why we need to.

  • @Niche, “The premise that a person should be taxed based upon what they make for society rather than what they take from society”
    Let’s just be clear that Income has absolutely nothing to do with this statement.

  • I’m in favor or pretty liberal immigration policies, but “people opt to come illegally instead of missing out on seeing their children grow up” is complete BS. So a bunch of children apparently apply for and receive immigration visas independent of their parents? Or are we talking about people who come here illegally and THEN have children (in which case, you have the causation backwards).
    It’s difficult for skilled workers to come to this country legally because the queue is filled with adult relatives of other naturalized citizens. I lived overseas for a decade, and didn’t have an expectation that my adult relatives and extended family would have a right to immigrate with me.

  • Regarding immigration:
    Citizens of other countries have no CONSTITUTIONAL right to travel to the United States, whether it be immigration or tourism. Not now. Not ever. With this in mind, immigration policies can then be developed which adequately protect US citizens from dangers abroad. Wasn’t that simple?

  • @Angostura: It happens all the time. 1 US dollar=10 pesos. Lots of people come to the US from Mexico to work because they make enough working low skill labor to send money home to support their family. Often the father gets a temporary work permit to come to the US to work in agriculture or construction and ends up getting a green card to be able to stay for an extended period of time. The rest of the family does not want to wait through the long line to get a green card and decides to cross into the US illegally or they get a short term visa and overstay. You often have children who grew up in the US after coming to the country illegally or overstaying a visa when they were babies or toddlers, but face deportation to a country that is completely strange to them. If you send them back to Mexico, they will just find a way to get back to the US to be reunited with their families. Tunnel, boat, ladder or whatever. As long as there is no efficient and fair way for people from south of the border to immigrate to the US, there will be illegal immigration. So, you can spend billions breaking up families, ruin Big Bend and other beautiful sections of the Texas border with a giant wall and have crime get out of control because immigrants are afraid to talk to the police and you will still have illegal immigrants. Or you can admit that the immigration laws are broken and inhumane, provide a path to citizenship or permanent residency and see a far greater reduction in illegal immigration.

  • @TheNiche: “The premise that a person should be taxed based upon what they make for society rather than what they take from society is so incredibly stupid and shortsighted…”
    I’m surprised to hear you say that. Wealthy people aren’t gifting society with more time and/or effort than others. They incur a tremendous cost just protecting all of their stuff. They need government services the most, and should pay accordingly.

  • Equating legal immigrants to illegal immigrants is like equating a person you willingly sold your house to for fair market value to a person that broke into your house and demanding squatters rights through bogus adverse possession papers and is hiding every time the cops come to evict him.

  • Old School- You think rewarding line-skippers with amnesty would reduce illegal crossings? It would do the exact opposite. It would encourage more to come. SMH There are legal ways to come here the right way. 1,400 immigrants took the oath the other day in fact. Enough excuses.

  • How about we get an economist and some professionals or something rounded up and let them tell us what we should be doing instead of letting a bunch of under-educated, under-employed and low information voters set national policy.
    American voters: $19 trillion in debt for 104% of annual GDP, great job guys
    When’s the last time you heard of an economics/finance expert go bankrupt?

  • one of the most under appreciated factors in hillary’s loss is this dumb immigration issue getting blown up lately. pretty smart of trump to hammer the immigration issue because a) there are lots of americans across many demographics (regardless of racist leanings) that don’t like the idea of their taxes paying for benefits for non-americans and b) by being tough on this issue, it seems to have forced hillary to act (probably) more friendly to illegal immigrants than she would have otherwise been. these 2 things made it very easy for him to turn people against her (and liberals in general who found themselves in the same position).
    i personally think immigrants are very valuable, and considering how many are coming in and living illegally, we probably should make changes to increase the amount that go through the process legitimately, but liberals don’t do themselves any favors taking the position on the opposite extreme from the nationalists because its so easy to paint them as illegal coddlers and increase turnout for the nationalists.

  • These comments were disappointing.

  • First, let me state that I don’t really favor illegal immigration, and if you don’t have the proper documentation to live and work here and get caught, well, you took a risk and I don’t feel sorry for you…BUT…illegal immigration from our southern border is a result of free market principles at work. Capital ( business) desires more and cheaper labor so that profits will be higher, and many poor people from across the Rio Grande are all too willing to supply their labor for less than an equivalent American citizen is willing to work for. It’s a two way street. And until businesses stop hiring undocumented labor, people will seek out the opportunity to work here. Be prepared though, if hiring practices are curtailed by stringent enforcement, you will see prices for goods and services rise.

  • Bill & Secure, it’s funny how you claim that now. Our President ran on a platform of dismantling DACA, which would do nothing but punish immigrants who have done nothing wrong — unless you believe that children should be complicit in the actions of their parents. Our President has called for scaling back legal immigration, including high skilled immigration, Our President passed a travel ban that included LPRs and visa holders, though he walked that back over public outrage. It seems pretty clear to me that this, to a large segment of the government and the population, is about immigrants.

    The reality is that if you are a prospective migrant to the US from a Latin American country and you are neither rich nor highly skilled and have no connections to this country, you have next to no chance of being granted a permanent work visa in this country. There is no realistic path; the waiting list is decades long. Even if you are a sibling of a US Citizen, the wait for a Mexican is 20 years and a Fillipino is 25 years. Parents of US adult citizens will wait over a decade. So don’t fool yourself. You aren’t keeping out people who “can’t wait”, you are making it either impossible or nearly impossible for those that do want to wait.

    Moreover, you can paint undocumented immigrants as selfish all you want, but that is only because you have not suffered the way many of them have suffered. I don’t think fleeing cartel violence, domestic violence or government oppression is a selfish act. I call it self preservation. I don’t think that risking your life to leave a country with no employment prospects to support your family is selfish, whether you chose to wait in line or not. I call it necessary. Sure, not all undocumented immigrants have had their lives threatened by cartels and not all risked their lives to avoid starvation, but some of those 1,400 people being naturalized are probably criminals and God knows, millions of US Citizens are too. You can’t stereotype undocumented immigrants any more than anyone else.

    Angostura, highly skilled immigrants get priority over non-skilled immigrants, even in queues for family visas. It’s simply not true that unskilled applicants are clogging the lines for them. Moreover, as relatable as your situation may be, it doesn’t sound like you became a citizen of the countries where you lived abroad. If you did, I don’t think you would find it so strange to think that, for instance, that if you lived in a country for 20 years and became a citizen, you could petition for your elderly grandmother to live with you and your grandkids, which is a common situation for these petitions.

    And spiteful, I’m not sure what these benefits are that you think undocumented immigrants are getting. Immigrant children get free schooling. I’d hardly hold a child responsible for their parents actions, but perhaps you would. But I will tell you that if you deport the undocumented parents of US citizen children, you are going to see a rise in the benefits necessary to support these citizen kids.

  • @ Memebag: “I’m surprised to hear you say that. Wealthy people aren’t gifting society with more time and/or effort than others. They incur a tremendous cost just protecting all of their stuff. They need government services the most, and should pay accordingly.”
    Wealth is not income. The people who most need income in order to build some modicum of wealth by way of which they can weather life’s perils — those people are not yet wealthy. And those people are only bothering to work, smarter or harder, on the premise that they can use the money that results from it to consume something. Consumption entails them demanding natural resources, land, and labor from society which could have been allocated elsewhere. In the pantheon of things in real terms, earning or saving is selfless and consumption is greedy.
    I’ll give you a common example. Let’s say that you’ve got a perfectly ordinary middle-class retired person that’s drawing down their savings. They aren’t working so they pay no income taxes aside from capital gains taxes (sometimes). Let’s say that they live in a state with minimal property taxes (not Texas) and that exempts taxes on financial instruments (yes, like Texas). Their wealth is made possible by the strength of the US Dollar, property protections, functioning courts, law enforcement, due process, etc…and they don’t pay very much for it because their three biggest expenses (shelter, food, and healthcare) are mostly exempt from sales taxes and their utilities are subsidized. You could say that they’ve paid already, when they were younger and poorer and when they earned it, but I’d say that they could live for many many years (or not), that life expectancy correlates with wealth, that the ability to optimize the tax consequences of one’s retirement correlates with wealth, and that there is terrible inequity from person to person as well as between social classes.
    Furthermore, I classify all taxes on corporate earnings, dividends, and capital gains under the umbrella of income taxes. I’d like to see all of those disappear in order to improve yields and to encourage more savings and investment. Savings is how an economy gets built up and how the productivity of labor gets improved-upon. A nation whose people save more, invest more, and participate in the financial system are building a bigger tax base. This is even more critical for a large nation whose outflows of foreign direct investment are integral to its diplomatic situation. It’s my opinion that one can easily make both a humanist and a nationalist case for such policy.
    Most (normal) people would be expected to retort that those with the capability to invest stand to earn the most. I’d say that no, both sales and property taxes are capable of being made progressive through exemptions and brackets. The devil is in the details, and those blow all of the preconceptions of identity politics away.

  • GOP pretends to be tough on immigration. but if they really wanted to affect illegal immigration they would go after businesses and individuals that hire illegal immigrants.

  • shadyheightster, an income tax is not what we need. do you think that if an income tax comes into play that *poof* property tax goes away? here’s a spoiler, they won’t. go check out some data on tax percentages paid for each states taxes. Texas is about 8% of income paid in taxes (between property and sales).
    Those east coast people you talk about who are shocked by how much you pay in taxes, on average, all east coast states pay over 10% into taxes, between income, sales and yes, property tax. in fact, of east coast states, only new hampshire, virginia, and florida pay lower overall taxes than we do.
    furthermore, if your taxes are going up faster than you can manage, sell your house and buy in a neighborhood that doesn’t appreciate in value as quickly as your current neighborhood. then you don’t have to worry about it. I mean, if those people from the east coast had a home that tripled in value like some homes in the heights have done in the past 20 years, they’d see some really outrageous increases in property taxes as well.
    so yeah, just sell your home, problem solved.

  • Ok, so you share a border with the greatest economic power on earth and some how your not supposed to want to get in on the action? This is a economic policy issue more so than a immigration one. Mexico with U.S. support deceided to shift the country from agrarian to industrial; rural to urban and used border manufacturering as the catalyst. Obviously this has failed, i would suggest because of the lack of investment in education and vo tech schools, basically Mexico has a lot of low skilled labor. It would seem to me that the comprise would be to shift massive amounts of agriculture production to Mexico, eliminating the need for huge totals of migrant farm workers. The cost of their housing, food, health care, education etc. would revert back to Mexico because simply the jobs would no longer be in the U.S.. The cost of living in the U.S. warrants the need for more high paying jobs which are mostly in manufacturing. So simply shift agricultural production to Mexico, duh

  • SeanHannityGivesblahblahblah

    Too long, didn’t read your babbling…