Plans have been scrapped for a group home for veterans in the Daisetta area. Liberty County Housing Authority was working toward purchasing the old Liberty County EMS building on FM 770 in Daisetta but those plans are no longer feasible, according to LCHA Board Chairman Klint Bush.
“The more we started looking into Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rules, the more we realized we can’t do it. According to HUD, we would need a sprinkler system and a state license for a group home, and would have to meet a whole lot of regulations,” Bush said. “We just cannot do it. It’s not the right time.”
Bush said concerns about regulations came to the forefront a few days ago after HUD documentation outlining group homes was received by LCHA staff.
“We were so ready to do this for the senior citizens and veterans of Liberty County. We are not giving up on homes for them, but at this particular time the HUD rules do not allow us to do this type of facility. It’s not county rules or city rules stopping us. It’s federal rules,” Bush said. “We were working on bank financing when we found out. We learned it would cost us close to $100,000 to fix the building to serve nine people, which is obviously not feasible on our budget.”
Bush said LCHA’s other housing initiative in the Daisetta area – tiny homes for veterans – now appears to be one of the best solutions to a housing shortage.
“We have another property in that area that is going to be completed this month. Just because one project doesn’t work out doesn’t mean we won’t keep looking for housing solutions. The LCHA board is very progressive and active, and seeks out money for Liberty County projects to help Liberty County residents,” he said. “Somethings work and others don’t. Unfortunately the group home is one of those things that just didn’t work out.”
Bush said that providing affordable and safe housing for veterans is only one of LCHA’s many challenges. Liberty County, in general, has a lack of housing, particularly starter and low-cost homes.
“Liberty County Housing Authority’s mission is to bring in new housing stock that is affordable to first-time home buyers. Even a first-year teacher and a graduate of A&M would find it difficult to afford a new house at the current prices. New home construction is starting at around $250,000. Can first-time home buyers afford a $2,000 monthly house note? No, that’s not affordable for most people,” Bush said.
With people continuing to move into Liberty County, Bush said the LCHA has a lot of work ahead. Over the last two weeks, the LCHA board appointed a new interim acting executive director, Ryan Daniel, and terminated all of the agency’s previous staff due to an alleged conflict of interest that arose after the agency’s previous three employees established a separate non-profit called Neighborhoods for Hopes to raise money to equip senior homes with appliances.
While their intentions were sincere and meant to help the community, creation of a separate non-profit was problematic for LCHA, which is why the agency’s law firm recommended termination of all three previous employees involved.