Dukes de­fends de­ci­sion not to send let­ter for Travis County project.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Tay­lor Gold­en­stein tgold­en­stein@states­

A pro­posed Travis County af­ford­able hous­ing project in North Austin has hit an $8 mil­lion road­block.

Of­fi­cials had hoped to se­cure that amount in tax cred­its for af­ford­able hous­ing in a mixed-use de­vel­op­ment on county-owned land. The pro­posed com­plex on Air­port Boule­vard, which would be built next to the ex­ist­ing of­fices for the county clerk and other de­part­ments, would in­clude more of­fices as well as 145 apart­ments, with 122 des­ig­nated for low-in­come res­i­dents.

But of­fi­cials say that the county is now un­likely to se­cure those tax cred­its, mainly be­cause its ap­pli­ca­tion lacks a let­ter of sup­port from state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, whose dis­trict in­cludes the site.

County Judge Sarah Eck­hardt first hinted at the an­tic­i­pated loss of the tax cred­its in her State of the County speech last Wed­nes­day, call­ing it a “se­ri­ous but tem­po­rary set­back.”

Eck­hardt said in an in­ter­view that the tip­ping point was the lack of a let­ter from Dukes, who in­stead wrote a let­ter for a 132unit af­ford­able hous­ing project pro­posed by non­profit Foun­da­tion Com­mu­ni­ties within the Mueller de­vel­op­ment.

The state awards the fed­eral tax cred­its to projects based on a points sys­tem. A let­ter of sup­port from a state rep­re­sen­ta­tive is worth up to eight points.

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