New digs: HACB breaks ground on major projects - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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New digs: HACB breaks ground on major projects

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Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2019 8:15 pm

The Housing Authority of the City of Brownsville on Sept. 18 held ceremonial groundbreakings for two major affordable housing developments: Poinsettia Gardens at Boca Chica and Trail Village.

The projects are being made possible by nearly $30 million in tax credit awards from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. TDHCA awards tax credits to eligible participants to offset a portion of their federal tax liability in exchange for creating or preserving affordable rental housing.

Carla Mancha, HACB’s chief executive officer, said Poinsettia Gardens stemmed from a $500,000 Choice Neighborhoods planning grant the city received from HUD in 2016. The money was used to plan the future of Buena Vida, Brownsville’s oldest affordable housing development, built in 1938.

“(Poinsettia Gardens) was identified as part of the housing strategy under the ... planning grant for Buena Vida,” she said. “When the residents of Buena Vida, which is on 14th Street, got together and planned the transformation plan for Buena Vida, they identified this land to be the first housing project in that plan.”

Mancha was referring to the 15.1 acres on Oak Street near HACB headquarters on Boca Chica Boulevard where the project is being built. Poinsettia Gardens will consist of 150 housing units from one to three bedrooms and is expected to be complete in December 2020. The families now residing at Buena Vida will move into the new development once it’s finished, and Buena Vida will be demolished and rebuilt, as it was deemed too old and outdated to rehabilitate.

Patricio Sampayo, HACB board chairman, said the $20 million Poinsettia Gardens award is the largest the city has received since it began participating in the TDHCA tax credit program 25 years ago, and the largest the state has awarded in six years.

“What makes this project special is how much the (Buena Vida) families participated in the idea and in the design of the project,” he said. “What we’re working on today is a direct result of their thoughts, their participation and their engagement in the process. This was not a developer-led design. This was a community-led design.”

Trail Village will consist of 48 housing units from one to three bedrooms, and is being made possible by a $9.9 million tax credit award from TDHCA. The development will be located at near Paredes Line Road and Paseo Plaza Boulevard, and will house families who will be moved out of the city’s Bougainvillea housing development, built in 1940, which is also set for demolition.

Mancha said construction of Trail Village will start in summer 2020 and should be complete by fall 2021, adding that she considers herself “blessed beyond measure” to be able to work with HACB’s talented board, led by Sampayo, who “brings people together and makes things happen.”

“This whole process was when Vice Chairman (John) Cowen and Commissioner Michael Motyl were on our board, so this is also their success,” Mancha said.

Sampayo said the projects are being accomplished without a cent from local taxpayers, but rather rely on state and federal funds.

“It just goes to show what you can do when you’re working together at the local, state and federal level,” he said. “Every dollar invested into this project is coming from outside of Brownsville. It’s not costing the Brownsville taxpayer a single penny, and that’s important.”

City Commissioner Nurith Galonsky, in whose district Poinsettia Gardens will be located, said she’s pleased Buena Vida residents were involved in the process from the start, and praised the work of HACB.

“They provide a lot of services and support to really empower people, so I’m sure that this project will do the same,” she said.

sclark@brownsvilleherald.com

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