Candidate (and Tenant) Perry’s Housing Record

In June, Rooflines published a piece by Kevin Jewell, a consultant for the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service outlining Texas Governor Rick Perry’s vetoes of important low-income and tenants rights bills. Since that time, of course, Perry has launched his bid for the Republican nomination for president, and now his record is surfacing for a national audience and saying things like “actions speak louder than words,” and so forth.

Of course, we already know his actions when it comes to tenants and affordable housing. Just this year, he’s vetoed a bill that would require landlords to give tenants a copy of their lease and that would prohibit landlord retaliation for tenant organizing. Perry also killed bill that would have extended the life of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the agency that is, according to Jewell, the “primary home of low-income housing programs administered by the state, and has managed the state’s housing recovery programs following the 2005 (Katrina, Rita) and 2008 (Ike, Dolly) gulf-coast hurricanes.”

Jewell also points to an important veto made by Gov. Perry that would have allowed individuals to request that their records be cleared, upon a prosecutor’s discretion, if charges against that individual were dropped by the prosecution. As Jewell notes, “this is a housing-related bill because it impacts the ability of innocent people to pass a background check when applying to rent an apartment…. As a result of this veto, innocent Texans will continue to excluded from rental housing in the state without access to a trial or prosecutor discretion to clear their name.”

In a recent blog post, Larry Gross, director of the California-based Coalition for Economic Survival, after summarizing Gov. Perry’s recent housing record, noted that “At the same time Perry has declared war on Texas tenants and affordable housing, it appears that the Governor was the state’s most expensive subsidized tenant.”

“Last year it was reported that Texas Gov. Rick Perry has spent almost $600,000 in public money during the previous past two years to live in a sprawling rental home in the hills above the capital, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.

The Texas Governor moved into this temporary home in the fall of 2007, leaving the white columned, two-story governor’s mansion so it could undergo repairs.

It costs more than $10,000 a month in rent, utilities and upkeep to house Perry in a five-bedroom, seven-bath mansion that has pecan-wood floors, a gourmet kitchen and three dining rooms. Perry has also spent $130,000 in campaign donations to throw parties, buy food and drink, and pay for cable TV and a host of other services since he moved in, the records show.

Of course, even amid cuts and furloughs, Perry has defended his publicly subsidized rental with a familiar barb: “Bring it on.”

Matthew Brian Hersh served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics.


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