Affordable housing on Tyler city officials agenda

Published on Tuesday, 20 August 2013 23:49 - Written by

DAYNA WORCHEL,dworchel@tylerpaper.com

Affordable housing and more economic development on the city’s north side are the goals of City of Tyler officials and community members who want to create a Neighborhood Empowerment Zone on the city’s north side.

A year ago, Mayor Barbara Bass convened the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force to see how the city might work best with the private sector in creating a pilot program known as a Neighborhood Empowerment Zone. The Task Force includes builders, Realtors, non-profit organization leaders and lenders to leverage the city’s in-house programs and create more affordable housing opportunities, according to information the city provided.

“We wanted advice from the people who have been doing it,” City Manager Mark McDaniel said after Task Force members met on Tuesday. ‘The main purpose of such a zone is to encourage re-development where it might not occur otherwise,” McDaniel said.

The concept of the Neighborhood Empowerment Zone comes from the Tyler 21 plan, which calls for continued revitalization efforts of the city’s north and west sides by offering affordable housing and encourages partnerships between builders, developers, lenders and nonprofit organizations, McDaniel said. The agreement allows for some incentives to builders, including the waiving of building permit, zoning, tap and testing fees.

In addition to affordable housing and an increase in economic development, a Neighborhood Empowerment Zone also must increase the quality of social services, education, or public safety provided to residents in the zone, according to information from the city.

McDaniel said other cities in Texas have such zones, including Fort Worth, Garland, and Plano. He stressed that establishing a Neighborhood Empowerment Zone in Tyler is in a discussion phase and that nothing has been decided yet. The Task Force will make its presentation to City Council at the Oct. 2 meeting. A final adoption may happen in December.

City Council Members Darryl Bowdre, who represents District 2, Sam Mezayek, who represents District 1, and John Nix, who represents District 6, all sit on the Task Force, along with McDaniel, Police Chief Gary Swindle, and Neighborhood Services Manager Brenda Johnson.