Board OKs TIF money for affordable housing, Elm business support


The city could soon use its Tax Increment Financing money to subsidize new affordable housing and help small businesses along Elm Avenue pay for facility improvements.

The Tax Increment Financing Zone board for TIF 1 and TIF 4 recommended approval of Waco housing department requests for a total of $1.25 million for business grants and $2.9 million for affordable housing. TIF 1 was established in 1982 and covers downtown and Elm, and TIF 4 was created within the past year and sprawls across much of town.

Waco Housing Director Galen Price said the city will issue requests for housing projects on city owned land, and the TIF-funded housing program will subsidize workforce housing, with $2.5 million available in TIF 1 and $400,000 for TIF 4. Workforce housing typically would be available to people who make between 80% and 120% of the area’s median income, with the upper end of that range now a little more than $54,000 per year.

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“What we’re starting to see now is that it’s not just individuals at 80% (of median income) or below. … There’s that middle … that need assistance,” Price said. “When you look at some of our studies, you can see there’s a need all across.”

He said each request will be different, but he expects most projects will be mixed-income, with a designated number of affordable units in an otherwise market-rate development, whether a single-family or multifamily development.

Price said information and applications for the program can be found on the housing section of the city website.

Waco City Manager Bradley Ford said undeveloped land at South 12 Street and Loop 340 could be a good candidate for the program, and Price said the 17 lots in a row the city recently purchased on North 15th Street could also fit. In East Waco, property off of Elm Avenue and Taylor Street, formerly owned by City Center Waco, is another potential candidate along with most other city-owned property.

The small business improvement program, on the other hand, will initially only be available to businesses on Elm Avenue. The program, called We All Win, was initially funded with federal coronavirus relief money.

Grants of up to $75,000 can cover 75% of the cost of facade improvements; heating, ventilation and air conditioning repairs; new public art; mitigating the impact of road construction on a business; and other improvements.

Ford said after the pilot program with Elm, the La Salle Avenue Corridor, and the 25th and 26th street corridor and other areas could be added, depending on funding and reception of the program.

“The pilot is meant … for learning about how people apply, what they’re interested in,” Ford said. “We’ll learn those lessons, then bring dollars more widely available in the core of Waco in the early part of 2023. We’re definitely excited about it.”

The Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce, Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Grassroots Waco, Startup Waco and other nonprofits will help spread the word about the program and help administer it.



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