The city of Plano held a town hall meeting Thursday evening to address housing and neighborhood questions from residents.
Mayor Pro Tem Rick Smith, City Manager Mark Israelson, Deputy City Managers Greg Rushin and Shelli Siemer, Director of Public Works Gerald Cosgrove, Director of Neighborhood services Lori Schwarz and Transportation Manager Brian Shewski were on hand to address community questions.
Over a dozen Plano residents expressed concerns and compliments to the officials by calling in, showing up to the meeting or submitting their questions on social media.
Using Nextdoor, a neighborhood-focused app, a resident asked the city about affordable housing for first-time homebuyers.
The question read, "The younger generations need to build equity by buying not renting. Why are there no affordable single-family homes or condos available?"
Schwarz said the city has been analyzing the issue of housing affordability in Plano for a long time.
Schwarz noted the city’s “Great Update Rebate” program that helps homeowners improve their aging houses.
“Those are great options for affordability, but we are going to continue to look at that moving forward with council over the next year and try and determine policies to help housing affordability here in Plano," Schwarz said.
Other questions included concerns about traffic lights and construction projects for sidewalks and roads.
According to Shewski, the city plans to implement new traffic light timing plans for the approximate time periods of 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and after 8:30 p.m.
“Those timing plans are about 80 percent complete. We anticipate finishing those particular timing plans probably within the next month and a half,” Shewski said.
A question regarding the population of homeless individuals was submitted online.
According to Schwarz, multiple departments in the city are working to address the issue of homelessness and housing affordability. Along with working alongside other departments, Neighborhood Services has partnered with local nonprofits to increase outreach.
Additionally, Schwarz said the department is receiving help from the state of Texas.
“We also have been able to get state funding for the first time last year to create a rapid re-housing program,” she said.
Schwarz tied the question back to the issue of housing affordability.
“More than 50 percent of our homeless have jobs and actually just cannot find affordable housing,” she said.
Schwarz added, “We are doing everything we can to make sure that they're getting the resources that they need and working cooperatively with departments to address that issue.”