In the Wednesday, October 14 Houston Chronicle, an interesting article was published. Written by Bradley Olson, the article informs the reader that Mayor Bill White wants to bring a new wrinkle into the Houston Cope program, at the expense of the taxpayer.
The Houston Hope Real Estate Brokerage Services Incentive Program would award real estates agents a whopping $5,000 for matching up clients with designated affordable housing in select areas of our fine city. Yes, read that again. Mayor White wants to pay real estate agents to do their job. And, he'd like to pay them with your money.
"Realtors have played a critical role in matching prospective homebuyers with houses, and incentives for the Realtors to show people the opportunities in this area could help us pick up the pace of activity," he said, as quoted in the article. Yes, Mayor White, that is the job of the realtor - to match homebuyers with homes. To socially engineer their move is standard Democrat thinking.
Some have spoken out in opposition - Pam Holm, current Houston City Councilwoman and running for City of Houston Controller, said, "This is pretty outrageous. This is money that's supposed to be used for affordable housing, not for incentivizing professionals." Former council member and talk radio host, Michael Berry, said, "I don't know if this is corrupt or just stupid, but there's no doubt it's wrong."
It is understandable to want people to move into homes swooped up by the city for delinquent taxes and set aside as affordable housing for those in need in selected spots in the city. But, did the mayor forget the lesson earlier in the year when he had to backtrack on support of a program giving potential homebuyers their down payment on "affordable housing" in selected neighborhood developments? What is viewed as affordable housing to one person may mean a different thing to someone else. Is it affordable housing if it is purchased on the backs of taxpayers? Isn't this how our financial foundation was jarred by recession - people buying homes they could not afford thanks to "incentives" and simple corruption. ACORN, anyone?
Councilman Ron Green, also running for City of Houston Controller, is a licensed real estate broker and holds a recent MBA certificate. He said he supports Houston Hope but isn't so sure on the $5,000 incentives. Another councilman who is a licensed real estate broker, Mike Sullivan, said it should not be done with taxpayer dollars, "This is poor public policy."
Mayor White is running for the Senate seat to be vacated by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Trying to win support on the backs of Houston taxpayers for an ill-conceived incentive for real estate professionals is not good public policy, either.