Council, ODC to discuss housing plan

After months of deliberation and planning, the Odessa City Council and the Odessa Development Corporation meet Tuesday to hash out the plan to address the housing shortage.
Council and ODC members will meet at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the third floor conference room of City Hall, 411 W. Eighth St.
“This is the new City Council…They’ve now met enough, they kind of know what they think needs to be done,” ODC Chairwoman Betsy Triplett-Hurt said. “So it is just a workshop to discuss, see if we’re all on the same page. If we’re not, let’s get on it and exchange ideas and move forward.”
A rough draft of a housing incentives plan has been drafted by the ODC’s Compliance Committee, which was first discussed by ODC members at their meeting last week.
The plan highlights numerous areas across the Ector County, primarily in south Ector County but also some areas in the north and the northeast as well. ODC Compliance Committee Chairman Chris Cole said these are areas where infill housing could be developed and financial incentives could be provided to builders.
As detailed in the plan, builders would apply for grants through the ODC by submitting building plans and specifications for proposed buildings prior to construction. The grant would require builders to construct a single-family home, duplex or apartment complex. Single-family homes that would be eligible for grants will have a minimum of three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a certified appraisal value of $275,000 or less. The plan states multi-family construction would be evaluated separately at a sliding scale based on fair market rent rates.
The $275,000 number came about during discussions with Cole, OHFC Executive Director Jill Miller and Odessa Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Director Wes Burnett. The price was initially lower at $250,000, but Miller said she didn’t want to limit developers.
“I don’t want a builder to say they can’t do it for that price unless it’s really small,” Miller said. “It gives the developers more opportunities to look at different things and still be incentivized to help.”
Burnett said the guidelines are still malleable, and they can be tweaked by City Council or ODC before they are finalized.
There are some exclusions as well. The plan would not provide funding for manufactured housing, or businesses, or anyone trying to build their own house.
The grant amount is determined by doubling the amount of property taxes generated for all taxing entities during the time of the application. An example given is that a $200,000 house would receive a $9,840 grant. A $200,000 house built in the county would receive about half of that, $4,290.
Triplett-Hurt said she hopes after the meeting ODC will be able to approve the plan at their next meeting on July 11. After ODC approves it, it will need approval by the City Council at their July 23 meeting.
District 2 Council Member Dewey Bryant said he appreciated the work done by the ODC Compliance Committee and thinks they need to get it moving forward if it will help the housing situation.
“My recommendation is let’s get something going, mercy,” Bryant said. “We need to start the process, get some incentives out there and get going.”