The Houston Housing Authority has broken ground on its first new affordable housing project in a decade.
The city’s affordable housing agency is under construction on Independence Heights Apartments, a mixed-income community on the southeast corner of Crosstimbers and North Main Street in the Independence Heights neighborhood.
The garden-style apartments, 302 Crosstimbers St., will offer 154 subsidized units. Units in Independence Heights Apartments are designated for eligible low-income renters earning at most $41,500 a year and supported by a public housing voucher. Leasing applications are expected to be open to the public by mid-2018. Construction is slated for completion by fall of 2018.
The Houston Housing Authority has not built any new affordable housing project in a decade as neighborhood opposition has blocked five out of eight proposed projects over the past three years.
“We’ve been waiting to do this for ten years. A lot of it is walking through the bureaucracy that exists, and then making sure we had the available dollars,” said LaRence Snowden, Chair of the Houston Housing Authority. “Our waiting list continues to grow. We have over a hundred thousand people on the waiting list, which shows the need for affordable housing in Houston.”
Last year, Mayor Sylvester Turner blocked a proposed affordable housing development at 2640 Fountain View Dr., located in a so-called “high opportunity” neighborhood in the Briargrove area near the Galleria. The move prompted a federal Housing and Urban Development investigation, which found earlier this year that Houston had violated the Civil Right Act prohibiting discrimination in housing.
Amid growing concerns that Houston faces an “affordable housing crisis”, the city of Houston and its housing authority are moving forward on 12 new affordable housing projects totalling 1,543 units, according to the Urban Edge, a blog from Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research. These projects are primarily planned for high-poverty neighborhoods like Independence Heights, where the median household income hovers around $25,000 a year.
While the debate over where to build affordable housing projects continues, private and nonprofit developers are moving forward on affordable and mixed-income housing projects in Houston. Although demand is high for affordable housing in Houston, local developers say it’s difficult to build more affordable apartments with tax credits.
In mid-December, The NHP Foundation began renovation work on Cleme Manor, a 284-unit affordable apartment complex in Houston’s Historic Fifth Ward neighborhood.
The Houston Housing Authority, established in 1938, provides housing assistance to more than 58,000 low-income residents and homeless veterans. More than 17,000 families participate in the authority’s voucher program and another 5,700 residents live in 25 public housing and tax-credit communities around the Bayou City.