More affordable housing could be coming to WF

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Wichita Falls has lots of affordable housing and more could be on the way. On Tuesday city council members will consider giving support to two more projects.

The first proposal is for a 40 unit complex in the 3300 block of Airport Drive and the second a 36 unit complex in the 3200 block of Maplewood.

There's a handful of reasons why developers are interested in the Falls. Low wages mean many people can't afford regular housing and Wichita County being declared a disaster relief county in November has developers interested in building affordable housing.

City leaders believe it's vital to future development.

"It's unfortunate that there is such a need," C.E.O. of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce, Henry Florsheim said. "Our ambition is not for the citizens of Wichita Falls to make minimum wage."

Affordable housing plays a vital role in the development of a city. Developers know that and that's why Wichita Falls has two interested in a contest that, if won, will provide tax credits on a new project.

"Anytime the city has a chance to leverage outside money, whether it's private money or money from the federal government to help offset the cost of some new construction or housing opportunities, it's a good thing," Florsheim said.

Not all residents are in favor of more affordable housing. James Long said when the government gets into affordable housing, it has too much red tape. Ana Ortiz-Gil said it's a good thing but doesn't see many people treating them right once built.

Florsheim and Wichita Falls Director of Community Development Dana Schoening want people to know it's a good thing.

"They're not the same as affordable housing back in the old days when you would think of a government project," Florsheim said. "These are nice developments and can really be an upgrade."

"They're quite nice," Schoening said. "They're affordable, and they last a long time."

Schoening said for Wichita Falls to grow, more affordable housing is needed.

"You want to have people come to your community," he said. "They have to have affordable housing. When you create jobs the housing is a very important factor to get people to your community and stay here."

Florsheim said the affordable housing project he's looking forward to most is the old Maskat Shrine Temple downtown. He said these projects can revitalize run-down buildings and gets more residents in the Falls, particularly downtown.

He added that the Chamber's goal is to constantly pursue opportunities to increase wages, but said when opportunities like this appear, the city has to act.

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