Weatherford Mayor Paul Paschall addressed community questions during the NAACP meeting on Saturday morning at the Mount Pleasant School.
Attendees asked Paschall about growth, affordable housing and support for Weatherford’s homeless during the meeting among other topics.
Rosie Mucino of the Weatherford Housing Authority asked Paschall about what the city is doing to address affordable housing.
Paschall said a committee has been set up to determine what the city can do to assist low-income housing.
“We know that there’s more demand than there is supply,” Paschall said. “I sit here today and I admit that to you. The solutions are out there, they exist, they’re being examined. I don’t think that this is a system or a process that was broken overnight and I don’t believe that it’s going to be fixed overnight either. What I will tell you is it does need to be addressed.”
Later in the meeting, Mucino claimed that one landlord was raising the rent up from $735 to $1,045.
“It’s often said that if you build, the people will come. Well, the people are here,” NAACP Political Affairs Chairperson Mary George said. “You (Paschall) said low-income, but I think we’re talking about affordable housing, and there’s a difference.”
The city of Weatherford cannot dictate prices for rent or real estate, which are driven by the free market, Paschall said. Multiple applications previously came to the Weatherford Planning and Zoning Commission while Paschall was on the commission for affordable housing projects that were declined for providing limited affordable housing units, he said.
“I believe that if you’re going to build affordable housing, then you need to build affordable housing,” Paschall said. “We looked at the rent roll and the break-down of those, 15-20 percent of those units were affordable housing. The rest were market-rate housing, and those rates were escalated to make up for the decrease rent for affordable housing.”
George asked what is being done by the city to aid the homeless population and how the homeless population is tracked.
Paschall said public safety officials do know where some of the homeless are living and check on them regularly. In addition, local groups support the homeless and are given some funds by the city.
“This is a growing need in our area, statewide, nationwide that you do hear of in larger cities,” Paschall said.
Paschall said the city is not in denial about the existence of homeless people in the city of Weatherford. Later in the meeting, he said more data is needed about the homeless community to develop programs.
To a question from NAACP Communications Chairperson Claire Olson, Paschall said growth has to be managed on a daily basis, particularly in terms of transportation and public safety. He talked about how Weatherford is a shopping area for the region as many people from surrounding communities come to Weatherford to shop on the weekends. Managing this from a transportation standpoint can be a challenge.
“That is a challenge that I believe no one has an answer to at this time,” Paschall said. “It’s something that we have to manage the best we can.”