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VISD board to consider Pedcor's housing project proposal

By KBell
Feb. 28, 2012 at 5:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 28, 2012 at 8:29 p.m.


IF YOU GO

WHAT: VISD special board meeting

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: VISD Administration Building, 102 Profit Drive

LIVE COVERAGE: For reporter Kayla Bell's live updates of the meeting, go to VictoriaAdvocate.com.

The Victoria school board will vote at a special meeting Wednesday on a proposal from Pedcor Investments, which is seeking to build an affordable housing complex in the 5300 block of John Stockbauer Drive.

Pedcor wants the school board to endorse what it considers to be a revitalization project.

The Victoria City Council rejected that description during its recent meeting.

Pedcor spells out specific plans for partnering with schools, like creating a homework center with computer access, awards and incentives for good attendance, resources for a field office for truancy officers, outdoor space for science and nature programs and assistance with emergency sheltering needs, according to Craig Lintner, senior vice president for development at Pedcor.

Linter said the project fits within VISD's mission "to educate all of the children in our community, and unfortunately, many of those kids face hurdles when it comes to stable homes and adequate economic resources."

"It's hard for me to see how the availability of more affordable housing, particularly in as tight a rental housing market as we presently face, can't benefit student achievement by removing or mitigating some of those hurdles," Lintner said in an email.

Pedcor is seeking housing tax credit points that would make the company stand out in a highly competitive bid for federal tax credits. With seven housing projects planned in the region - most in Corpus Christi - one more point that would come with the VISD board's endorsement could tip the scales in favor of tax credits going to the Victoria project.

Through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs program, in exchange for tax credits, Pedcor agrees to keep rental rates at affordable levels.

The Victoria City Council passed resolutions last week granting Pedcor 19 out of the 20 points it requested based on criteria set forth by the state housing authority.

The one point was lost in a disagreement over the definition of "community revitalization."

Lintner said the Pedcor plan "is geared more toward supporting affordable housing in areas where the district has existing capacities and where there will be opportunities for partnering between the district, Pedcor and other developers, or owners of multifamily housing."

"To some degree, unsatisfactory academic achievement, absenteeism and excessive student mobility are problems rooted in instability in the home," he wrote. "That instability can be directly addressed by the availability of more affordable housing."

About 65 percent of VISD students are considered economically disadvantaged.

If the board approves the proposal, VISD would not be required to make an investment or sacrifice tax dollars, but could benefit if the project attracts more taxpayers into the district.

Lee Keeling, of Walker Keeling Law Firm, represents Pedcor. He is the husband of board president Tami Keeling, who would not participate in discussions or a vote on Pedcor's proposal.

The deadline for Pedcor to submit its application to TDHCA is March 1.

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