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April 30, 1998     (512) 463-0300

LEGISLATORS HOLD JOINT PUBLIC HEARING ON HOUSING ISSUES

EL PASO - The border city of El Paso hosted a unique joint meeting between two legislative committees on Wednesday, April 29. The Senate Interim Committee on Housing and the House Committee on Urban Affairs met in the El Paso City Council Chambers to join forces to provide affordable housing for all Texans.

The Senate Interim Committee on Housing is chaired by Senator Eddie Lucio of Brownsville and members include Senators Rodney Ellis of Houston, Florence Shapiro of Plano, Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi, and Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio. Representative Fred Hill chairs the House Committee on Urban Affairs which includes Representatives Ron Clark of Sherman, Lou Burnam of Fort Worth, and Harryette Ehrhardt of Dallas.

The members heard valuable testimony from local officials and citizens from El Paso, a city which is critically deficient of affordable housing structures. Because border cities around the state are experiencing rapid population growths, differing wage structures, and tend to have lower salaries per capita, the demand for quality and affordable housing at all levels is increasing rapidly. The legislators are faced with drafting legislation or providing funding for the construction of additional housing projects to these communities in need.

Those testifying included the Colonia Initiatives Director of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs who provided updates on legislation passed that created "self-help centers" aiming to improve the quality of life of colonia residents. A representative from the State Comptroller's office provided research, statistics, and comparisons regarding housing and wage issues from all over the state. Others testifying represented the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation, and the Texas Veteran Land Board. Public testimony followed.

The next meeting will be held in Corpus Christi on May 14. The committee will gather its findings and make any necessary recommendations to the 76th Legislature which will convene in January of next year.

SUBCOMMITTEE CONTINUES PUBLIC HEARING ON NURSING FACILITIES

AUSTIN - The Long-Term Care Legislative Oversight Committee's subcommittee on a Survey Regarding Nursing Facilities continued its public hearing at the state capitol on Thursday, April 30. The subcommittee is part of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Senator Judith Zaffirini of Laredo, and includes Senator Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, Representative Eliott Naishtat, Representative Jim McReynolds, and public members Dr. Ken Kramer and Pat Karrh. The committee is responsible for ensuring the quality, efficiency, and high standards of care expected of Texas nursing facilities.

The committee heard invited testimony from several panels of nursing home residents and family members of residents who are directly affected by the conditions of nursing homes on a daily basis. Also testifying were advocates, operators, owners, and owner-operators of nursing facilities in the state.

The committee will gather its findings and present their report to the 76th Legislature when it convenes in January of next year.

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