Legislative Priorities

SB 1679: Houston Land Bank

The Houston Land Bank (HLB) works closely with the City of Houston, Houston Community Land Trust, and private and non-profit developers to help residents transform their neighborhoods and create more affordable homes. This is vital in the Mayor’s mission to create an affordable home for every Houstonian.

  • The Houston Land Bank, including HLB-generated sales and construction activity, has created over 600 new affordable homes for income-limited Houstonians since 2004.

The Houston Land Bank’s mission is to acquire vacant, tax-delinquent, and other deteriorated property in the City of Houston and assure its redevelopment into productive use. As a partner with the City, non- and for-profit development communities, HLB is a key instrument in the city for neighborhood transformation, supporting affordable home ownership, and community revitalization. This mission aligns with Mayor Turner’s Complete Communities initiative.

However, the City of Houston Land Bank was created as the Land Assemblage and Redevelopment Authority (LARA) in 1999 (prior to any of the current local land bank laws being enacted in Texas) for the purpose of acquiring tax foreclosed properties and returning them to productive use.

The original land bank statute, under which Houston still operates, was enacted in 2005 but was never implemented because of impracticality issues in the underlying statute.

  • As a result, the current Houston Land Bank operates under a patchwork of other statutory authorities provided by general state law.

Operating under this patchwork of statutory authority has diminished the Houston Land Bank’s ability to acquire problem properties and repurpose these properties and has limited its operational funding. Specifically, the Houston Land Bank is restricted to intervening in limited delinquent properties, is restricted to re-purposing land solely for affordable housing, and operates only under grant money from Houston’s Housing and Community Development Department.

To address these concerns, the Landbank and the City partnered with State Senator Carol Alvarado and State Rep. Jarvis Johnson to file SB 1679.

  • SB 1679 addresses these issues by amending the Local Government Code to add Chapter 379H that creates the Houston Land Bank by taking into consideration best practices of land banks across the nation.

The legislation authorizes the Houston Land Bank (HLB) to be codified permanently within Texas Statutes. It enables the HLB to perform activities relating to housing and community development with greater ease and transparency. This legislation is critical to both the expansion and preservation of affordable housing in the City of Houston.

Further, it will allow the City of Houston and the Land Bank to work as partners in responding to the shortage of affordable housing stock caused by increased population growth and combat the devastation of recent flood events which has led to the increased cost of housing in our neighborhoods.

The bill will enable HLB to do the following:

  • Complement the City’s toolbox to provide equitable and inclusive development and align state statute to the ongoing operations of this critical local government corporation.
  • Quickly secure “problem properties” by proactively identifying and acquiring tax delinquent properties without waiting for long-term delinquency to become evident.
  • Support locally driven neighborhood development modernizing HLB’s disposition options to include greenspace, food desert solutions, community amenities, flood reduction.
  • Ensure greater ties between the organization and the neighborhoods through community advisory committees

The City believes that the passage of SB 1679 is a key step in our mission of ensuring that every Houstonian has a decent home they can afford in a community where they can thrive.