A Tale of Two Gates: “Slumlord” Texas Rep. Gary Gates and His Questionable Bills Designed to Help Benefit His Apartment Complexes

A Tale of Two Gates: “Slumlord” Texas Rep. Gary Gates and His Questionable Bills Designed to Help Benefit His Apartment Complexes

Gates, whom Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Wayne Christian had publicly dubbed a “slumlord,” is a multimillionaire landlord in Greater Houston with a startling reputation in business ethics that spans decades including evicting Veterans from their homes.

BREAKING: Fort Bend County, TX– Texas State Rep. Gary Gates (R-HD 28), who has openly admitted to spending half of his days in the state he represents, and the other half nestled in ski town Crested Butte, Colorado, is suspected of shocking mishandling of his seat as state representative.

Gates, whom Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Wayne Christian (R) has publicly dubbed a “slumlord,” is a multimillionaire landlord in Greater Houston with a startling reputation in business ethics that spans decades.

In one 2006 lawsuit by the City of Houston, Gates’ Deerfield Apartments were flagged for “55 [documented] offenses on the property over a two-year period, ranging from prostitution and drug offenses to sexual assault and capital murder.”

                      TX State Rep Gary Gates-R (Katy, Sugar Land)

Over the years, 64-year-old Gates’ buildings have received countless violations, and they have been dialed-from locations of hundreds of 911 calls. The lawmaker has attracted insurmountable notoriety among his opponents for episodes of evicting senior veterans from their final homes and conducting evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet the most staggering accusation against Gates is that he may be abusing his office to author laws which benefit his real estate business.

Of the twenty-four bills Gates has authored since he took office in 2021, many directly benefit his real estate business. Some of these bills include: 

HB 860, relating to municipal and county permitting requirements to conduct certain repairs on residential buildings;

HB 2787, relating to late payment fees charged by a municipally owned water utility;

HB 2665, relating to an interim study of the municipal regulation of short-term rental properties and residential amenity rental properties;

HB 4294, relating to certain regulations adopted by governmental entities for the building products, materials, or methods used in the construction of residential or commercial buildings;

HB 4297, relating to municipal solid waste management services contracts; limiting the amount of a fee;

HB 4298, relating to certain municipal requirements imposed on a landlord of a dwelling or a multiunit complex;

HB 4303, relating to exceptions to municipal plat requirements for certain property developments; and

HB 3276, relating to the disclosure of certain fees by a landlord.

The following document contains the bill text for HB 1877, authored by Gates, which relates to county and municipal regulation of repairs to vacant residential buildings.

Gates authored HB 1877 in 2021. The bill was in 25% progression when it died in the committee.

Had the bill been passed, the state representative, whom Reform Austin reports to own at least 7,000 Houston-area apartment units in Texas, would have saved a tremendous sum of money. The bill was designed to shield residential building owners from having to bring their vacant buildings up to code.

Gates, who owns at least 34 residential buildings, has received numerous citations for building code violations.

“Gates’ properties Villa de Cancun Apartments, Deerfield Apartments, Rama Apartments and Whispering Oaks all lie just north of the ‘Bissonnet Track,’ an area of Houston rampant with prostitution, human trafficking and violence,” Reform Austin wrote in a February 2022 article.

“Four of his buildings have received countless violations, including a citation for ‘open sanitary sewer lines…allowing raw untreated sewage to empty onto the ground at undetermined times.’”

Gates’ complexes also received citations which included unpermitted siding replacements, and inspectors said, “It is not known what type of rotten wood if any was covered up by this unpermitted work,” Reform Austin noted.

These citations carry on for hundreds of pages, revealing Gates’ refusal to bring his buildings up to code. Instead, it appears that Gates uses his office to ensure that he isn’t legally obligated to do so.

HB 1877 also included provisions which would “create a cause of action for owners to sue the county or municipality… for damages incurred due to the violation.” The proposed bill was a direct violation of building safety standards, and it would have aided Gates in retaining more of his money.

Gates authored another bill with prospective outcomes quite similar to HB 1877, yet it differed in approach. This bill was HB 1878.

Both HB 1877 and HB 1878 were proposed to reduce governmental oversight of vacant apartment buildings. HB 1878, “relating to municipal and county permitting requirements to conduct certain repairs on residential buildings,” was supported by Gates’ allies in the Texas House of Representatives, but it died in the Senate chambers.

The two bills stunned the Houston Permitting Center of Houston Public Works, prompting the center to pen a letter to the then-Texas Rep. Joe Deshotel (D-HD 22) to urge him to block it.

“House Bill 1877 would prohibit a municipality from requiring an owner of a vacant building to improve the building to a condition that is better than what would have been legally accepted before the damage occurred,” wrote Christon Butler, Houston Permitting Center’s Deputy Director.

“Alternatively, House Bill 1878 would prohibit a municipality from requiring an owner of a vacant residential building to obtain a permit to conduct certain repairs to the building.”

“We believe both proposals stand in contrast to the best interests of our citizens and should be strongly opposed… Passage of these bills would allow owners to circumvent the permitting and inspection process and would effectively prevent the Houston Permitting Center from upholding the minimum standards adopted by the city,” the letter stated.

Further, Gates sponsored HB 2607, “relating to the taxation of a leasehold or other possessory interest in a public facility granted by a public facility corporation.”

Critics allege that Gates sponsored this bill to maintain a tax exemption for housing properties that he’d purchased from a nonprofit organization, such as his infamous Pleasantville complex.

In the summer of 2021, Gates’ real estate company, APTPV, LLC, purchased a nonprofit housing community for senior citizens in Pleasantville, an east Houston subdivision created for Black homeowners. The region was known for being the first master-planned community for middle-class Black people in the United States.

Following the buyout, its senior living complex, a village-like set of leased homes called Pleasant Village Apartments, which was set aside by a nonprofit, saw rent increases which forced many 70-, 80- and 90-year old residents, including U.S. war veterans, to pack their bags and move out.

“The sale of property isn’t as much [of] an issue as the plans to increase the rent on residents who make minimal money, generally on social security,” said Bridgette Murray, President of the Pleasantville Super Neighborhood Council, to FOX 26 Houston in an article published February 2022.

“There are individuals also on disability, and they are having a hard time with the idea of displacement and finding conditions that would be comparable to what they have now,” Murray continued.

Protestors complained that residents in their 80s and 90s were facing higher rents while they could hardly afford medicine and groceries, FOX 26 Houston said.

“From all accounts, it’s no longer a senior complex,” said Mary Fontenot, President of the Pleasantville Civic League. “We are raising rent. We are getting rid of the seniors. That was the message.”

Gates purchased the subdivision from Inter-Faith Texas, a non-profit organization. Immediately following the purchase, Gates filed eviction cases against residents in three of Pleasant Village Apartments’ dwellings. The to-date toll of senior evictions from the community is uncounted, and the units are no longer reserved for solely senior citizens.

He defended these actions with an argument that as the seniors’ village was no longer owned by a nonprofit, his overhead saw an increase because he now had to pay taxes on the property, which nonprofit organizations are exempt from.

He told the Houston Chronicle, “[it’s] the fact that we’re going to be paying the operational costs the former owner did not have to pay.” He also cited plans to make $1 million in improvements to the properties.

Skeptics doubt these reasons, because Gates authored aforementioned bills both targeted toward reducing the required amount of repairs landlords must make to vacant apartments before re-renting them, and targeted toward buyers maintaining tax-exempt status when purchasing properties from nonprofit organizations.

Additionally, Gates authored HB 2787, “relating to late payment fees charged by a municipally owned water utility.” This bill raised concern among the City of Sugar Land, prompting resident Louise Sanchez to write a letter to the Committee on Natural Resources to be reviewed by the House of Representatives.

“This bill is deeply concerning to us,” Sanchez wrote. “HB 2787 creates an unnecessary burden on both the City and the Public Utility Commission by requiring that the City repeatedly prove that its late fee complies with the state law after each appeal.”

“With enough appeals, the City may become inundated with PUC hearings that the cost to defend the City’s late fees would outweigh the amount being recouped by the fee, no matter the outcome. This is wasteful of both City and State resources.”

“The burden of proof being shifted to the City is unfair. It will lead to increased administrative costs, which will ultimately be borne by the taxpayers,” Sanchez said.

Opponents criticize Gates’ use of office to pen bills which favor his real estate business, calling into question his ethics both in office and in business.

Former state Rep. Wayne Christian, who once was Gates’ political opponent in a GOP race for Railroad Commissioner, painted Gates as a “slumlord” who “had trouble repaying a loan and faced a court battle with the city of Houston over safety at a crime-ridden apartment complex he owns on the west side of town,” Texas Tribune wrote in a 2016 article.

“How can the people of Texas trust Gary Gates to take care of our natural resources and protect our communities when he does not even seem concerned about the safety of the tenants who rent from him?” read a press release from Christian’s campaign.

Gates, who used to openly admit on the internet that he spends half of his time in Colorado, seems to operate with far kinder business ethics in the mountainous state than he does in the state he represents.

“In what the Crested Butte News called ‘the largest private-public affordable housing project in Gunnison County,’ Gates built and operates the 77-unit Paintbrush apartment complex, where about half of the dwellings were set aside to rent for monthly prices that blue-collar workers can afford,” reported Reform Austin in an article published February 2022.

“The goal of the project, which Gates spent years discussing with local government officials, is to provide housing options for people who provide services to wealthy local homeowners and ski-resort visitors. Without such housing, locals say, service workers would have to live far away in less glamorous towns just to afford the rent.”

“The overall clash is striking: In Houston, a congresswoman may seek the federal government’s help to prevent half-Texas Gates from displacing seniors or drastically raising their rents. Meanwhile, half-Colorado Gates was considering taking federal money to build affordable apartments and just finished building one with units set aside for blue-collar renters. It’s unclear when Gates might consolidate his living arrangements and his business philosophy into single concepts.”

Gates’ disinterest in Texas was made abundantly clear during the 2021 Texas Deep Freeze Crisis, when the representative fled on his private jet to the magical land of Orlando, Florida. Millions were left without water or power in below freezing weather, at least thirty people died, and Gates enjoyed the sunny origin of Disney World.

He told KPRC 2 Houston in an interview that his pipes burst and his home flooded, prompting his decision to jet away.

“My wife is still recovering from an illness she has been battling for two weeks, and the room of my adult daughter, who is mentally handicapped and still lives with us, flooded,” Gates said.

He also claimed he needed to get to a place where he would have “dependable power, dependable internet and dependable phone service” in order to “continue his professional duties.”

Yet a reporter from the Fort Bend Star posted on X (then Twitter) that Gates’ chief of staff told him that Gates flew to Orlando for a business meeting, throwing a spanner into the plausibility Gates’ story.

Conversely, Jim McIngvale, or “Mattress Mack,” who doesn’t hold a political office in Texas, again opened his doors to city-dwellers during the freeze.

“The 70-year-old is offering two of his Furniture Gallery stores as warming centers to those in need in the Houston area. With power outages affecting several parts of the county, McIngvale has invited those in the Houston and Richmond areas who need warmth, food and hot chocolate to come to two of his stores for shelter,” Altelia reported.

Interestingly, “half-Colorado” Gates has no district office in House District 28, the region which he represents. This is unusual among state representatives. See Texas Rep. Steve Toth when compared to Gates.

Texas House Member

Rep. Gates, Gary

District 28


Capitol Address:

Room E2.506

P.O. Box 2910

Austin, TX 78768

(512) 463-0657

District Address:

Texas House Member

Rep. Toth, Steve

District 15


Capitol Address:

Room E1.404

P.O. Box 2910

Austin, TX 78768

(512) 463-0797

District Address:

25700 Interstate Hwy 45, Ste. 100

Spring, TX 77386

(346) 220-0300

Gates conducts state business in his personal office and keeps the office allowance. Some critics suggest this could be a breach of ethics. Others allege that this points to Gates’ general disinterest in Texas and the wellbeing of Texans, while displaying flamboyant generosity to Coloradoans.

Two final factors worth considering when examining Gates is his campaign’s financial contributors and payees, and the lawmaker’s notable endorsements.

In the 2021-2022 election cycle alone, Gates contributed a sum of $101,800 to the Matthew Dade Phelan Campaign. Phelan is the Speaker of the Texas House Representatives, and he has earned infamy among his constituents for “owning RINO politicians.”

The “Dirty Dozen,” the coined term for Republican politicians with whom Phelan is financially linked, including Gates, each voted “Yes” during the illegal House impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton a few months ago.

These politicians tend to vote and author bills in accordance with Phelan’s agendas, even when these votes and bills violate GOP priorities and the interests of their constituents.

Another huge player in the Texas House Republican political game is the Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC (TLR), which is a super PAC owned by several prominent Texas businessmen, including Richard “Dick” Weekley of Weekley Homes.

Gates is highly financially linked to TLR, both through payouts of and through receiving substantial sums of money.

The state representative is a proud recipient of TLR’s endorsement, as displayed on his Facebook page.

In light of the circulating rumors pertaining to Gates potentially misusing his office to benefit his business, Katy Christian Magazine reached out to the state representative for his side of the story. He made the following statement:

“All 181 members of the Texas Legislature are citizen legislators. As per the Texas Constitution, the legislature convenes only every odd-numbered year for 140 days, except for special sessions called by the governor. We all bring our personal and professional experiences to help craft policy that impacts the daily lives of every Texan,” Gates said.

“For example, we have several doctors, bankers, veterinarians, teachers, and law enforcement officers who have been elected to the Texas House and Senate and all bring their own proficiency and expertise of these professions to their work at the Capitol. In fact, frequently, each committee assignment is based on the professional background of lawmakers.”

“As a businessman with a vast experience in the area of real estate, the people of House District 28, whom I am honored to serve, expect me to utilize the knowledge, skills, and experience that I have garnered to help write legislation that continues to ensure a thriving economy.”

“Last session, I passed legislation to close a loophole in the law that allowed for egregious abuses of our tax system for the benefit of big developers that were pocketing millions, off the backs of taxpayers. An example of a self-serving interest would have been for me to utilize that loophole for my own financial gain, which I have never done. Instead, I fought big money lobbyists who opposed my reform measures and won.”

Our philosophy at Katy Christian Magazine is to trust our readers in their autonomy and ability to develop their own, informed opinions. The purpose of the media is to bring to light the facts, and particularly in politics, to thrust into the spotlight governmental officeholders and their actions. The purpose of the citizens is to remain informed, media-literate and active participants in society who think deeply about whom they choose to support, and why.

This said, make what you will out of Texas Rep. Gary Gates. We have our own opinions, but yours are for you to develop.

Texas Rep. Gary Gates will be on the ballot in the March 2024 Republican primaries. He is being challenged by Dan Mathews. If he wins the Republican nomination, he will face the Democratic nominee in the November 2024 election cycle. 

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