An organization with a mission to encourage and help finance the development of housing that’s affordable to teachers, police, firefighters, and other professionals will seek a resolution of support from the city council next month.

Build Galveston, a spinoff of Vision Galveston, will seek support through a resolution at a Jan. 25 city council meeting. The resolution doesn’t entail a financial commitment by the city or any other obligation, said John Rutherford, a consultant to Build Galveston, a nonprofit community development corporation focused on workforce housing.

Seeking support from the city council comes as Build Galveston gains momentum with a $1.5 million commitment from the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation to the Galveston Essential Workforce Housing Fund, with a goal of raising $5 million in support of attainable workforce housing.

Three other Galveston-based foundations also have committed to the fund, according to Build Galveston.

The main reason for approaching the city council is to educate its members about the initiative and Build Galveston’s capitalization efforts as developers begin to answer requests for proposals and seek permitting through the city, Rutherford said.

“We’re making sure they know what we’re doing and gain their general support,” Rutherford said. “It’s not a financial commitment; this is a program we feel the city needs to support as we go down the road with developers.”

Christine Bryant, CEO of Vision Galveston, and Rutherford have met with funders, developers, banks and the public and private sectors to create a fund to incentivize workforce housing development. Rutherford next week plans to meet with Mayor Craig Brown to hash out the language of the resolution, which isn’t finalized.

The resolution would be an important step toward resolving a crisis in which Galveston’s middle-income workers increasingly reside on the mainland, and employers find it increasingly hard to hire, because housing is too expensive, Rutherford said.

When professionals can’t afford to live in Galveston, it costs the city financially, socially, and culturally, Rutherford said.

Employers in Galveston have a harder time keeping staff when it’s too expensive to buy or rent, Rutherford said.

“From an employment standpoint, it provides a more stable workforce and an advantage for hiring,” he said.

When people live in Galveston, rather than commute to work from the mainland, their local taxes benefit the city, Rutherford said. Cutting down on commuters also reduces traffic, pollution, and wear and tear on public roads, he said.

“It really hit home after talking to one of the board members on Build Galveston how important multi-generations living on the island is and how it strengthens the long-term fabric of the community,” Rutherford said.

The Galveston Essential Workforce Housing Fund and related strategic plan would allow for land acquisition and pre-development financing at below-market rates and other options designed to reduce the cost of development and lower monthly payments for homeowners. Build Galveston, which has a separate board of directors from Vision Galveston, will manage the fund.

Part of educating city council members is assuring them affordable workforce housing isn’t low-income or federally subsidized housing, Rutherford said.

Such housing has become a political lightning rod in Galveston, and recent efforts to ease the affordable housing shortage haven’t fared well.

Earlier this year and after much outcry, Galveston Housing Authority resolved to not demolish and replace a community center, 4700 Broadway, that long has provided a one-stop shop of social services for low-income residents. The authority had considered developing workforce housing there.

What wasn’t resolved was whether the authority would or should continue efforts to build workforce housing in a city where more than 5,400 households — including people waiting tables and bus dispatchers working for the school district — make less than $50,000 a year and are burdened by rent and utilities, said Betty Massey, a Galveston Housing Authority commissioner who sees workforce housing as integral to the island’s economic health.

Whether developers financed by the Galveston Essential Workforce Housing Fund build multi-family or single-family houses depends on market demand, which partly will be determined by the results of a survey commissioned by Build Galveston.

In that survey, which began in late summer, employees with the city of Galveston and Galveston ISD were asked a series of questions, including what it would take to keep them on the island or what would encourage them to move here.

Analysis and conclusions from the survey aren’t complete, but affordable single-family housing has been a popular answer, Rutherford said.