Members of the Houston City Council gave first-round approval to a proposal Monday that is hoped to spark housing starts locally.

Initiated by the City of Houston’s Industrial Development Authority (IDA), the plan works this way:

•For new residential (single family, multifamily) construction within Houston the city would provide a one-time payment of $3 per square foot of the size of the structure on the building permit, not to exceed $7,000 per building application.

•Construction must be completed within one year of application, and the city must complete a successful inspection of the property prior to payment.

The city will set a cap of $42,000 which will be moved from reserves to be paid for the remainder of 2022 to qualifying permit holders after the passage of this resolution.

Attending the meeting was Brad Rees, an IDA member.

In other matters, the council:

•Approved setting in motion paperwork that leads to funds for the city’s bus system.

•Authorized participating in an insurance pool that would extend benefits for firefighters diagnosed with cancer as part of their duties.

•Approved the purchase of an air bag for the Houston Fire Department. The cost of $12,186 was under budget.

•Learned the city would receive an electrical rebate of about $35,000 that could be credited to its 0 percent state loan as result of frigid weather in February 2021 that sent electrical meters spinning.

•Will explore funding opportunities under the American Rescue Plan Act.

•Heard that 185 youth are enrolled for its annual soccer program.

•Decided to discuss the possibility of updating its grass mowing policy at its next meeting.

•Will hold a special closed board meeting Monday, March 14, for retention of a special advisory counsel after it was disclosed in January that health insurance benefits had been extended improperly to Mayor Willy Walker in March 2020.

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