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Under current law, homestead preservation districts and reinvestment zones exist to enable municipalities to promote homeownership (particularly for low- and middle-income families) and improve economic and social conditions in disadvantaged communities. Such assistance is available to municipalities with a population of at least 750,000 in a uniform state service region with fewer than 550,000 occupied housing units.
SB 1656 would expand the application of this assistance to municipalities in a uniform state service region with fewer than 800,000 homes as well as a municipality that contains more than 75 percent of the population of a county with a population of 1.5 million or more. In addition, this bill would perpetuate qualification on the basis of initial qualification for a municipality (continuing qualification even if the population or the number of occupied housing units changes in a way that would otherwise disqualify a municipality).
This bill infringes on the principle of limited government and the free market by expanding and perpetuating governmental assistance provided through homestead preservation districts and reinvestment zones. Because this would increase state intervention and increase market distortions, we oppose SB 1656.
We do understand that this would simply re-qualify the City of Austin and City of San Antonio to participate and should not affect anyone else, but we are unpersuaded by this argument because we believe this program should be eliminated altogether and if population growth is one means of that occurring we support letting that happen.