Building affordably without sacrificing efficiency in the 3rd Ward

Affordable and environmentally friendly are often mutually exclusive. Not so with the affordable housing program the Midtown Redevelopment Authority (MRA) and the Center for Civic and Public Policy Improvement (CCPPI) have brought to Houston’s Greater Third Ward. 

How energy efficient are these homes?

“Ten years ago, building green in affordable housing was unheard of,” said MRA Real Estate Manager Todd Edwards. “Today, it is expected and necessary to be competitive. We will not work with builders who do not want to build sustainably.”

These homes have the latest energy-efficient appliances, heating and cooling systems, thermostats, insulation, windows, and flooring. When possible, builders are even making decisions about the placement of the windows and doors to reduce the impact on energy consumption.

More upfront costs but future savings

Building green does cost more, but the unique structure of the MRA/CCPPI program is helping offset those costs by subsidizing the land to the builders for free or a nominal fee. Builders use the savings – sometimes as much as $90,000 to $100,000 – to include energy efficiencies and other upgrades usually not available in affordable housing.

The buyers of these homes can expect to pay far less for heating and cooling than they would in a home without energy-efficient appliances and design features. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the annual savings can amount to as much as 5-30 percent. That is cold, hard cash homeowners will have available for other needs.

Where can I find more information?

MRA and CCPPI partner with nonprofits and private sector builders with experience in the affordable housing market. As of January 2022, seven builders are participating – Agape HomesCole Klein BuildersCR Design Build LLC, Henby Realty Group LLC, Houston Business Development Inc. (HBDi), Lin Development Group LLC, and Mayberry Homes

The target population for the homes is working-class families who can meet income requirements and complete a homebuyer education class offered by the Houston Area Urban League. There is a requirement homebuyers commit to staying in the homes for 20 years. The commitment helps foster neighborhood stability and prevents flippers from scooping up the properties. A decision to leave earlier will require repayment of the land subsidy provided to the builders.

At the end of 2021, more than 600 single-family homes and multi-family rental units had been completed or were under construction. Those numbers are according to information on the CCPPI website. Read our previous blogs here