Building complete communities begins with housing

Can a home come with an affordable price tag and be in a neighborhood offering access to coffee shops, groceries, restaurants, parks, health care, and public transit? Of course, but it requires planning and execution. 

Commerce follows rooftops

In the suburbs, developers start new communities by building rooftops and infrastructure – the sidewalks, streets, and sewers. Commerce shows up once those homes start selling and new residents move in. The Midtown Redevelopment Authority (MRA) and the Center for Civic and Public Policy Improvement (CCPPI) use the same approach for their affordable housing program in Houston’s Greater Third Ward. The significant difference is MRA and CCPPI are working to revitalize an existing neighborhood. The transformation occurs lot by lot and takes longer than starting with a blank slate in the suburbs.

Twenty years ago, the Third Ward was blighted and full of tax-delinquent vacant lots, which were targets for illegal dumping. At about the same time, MRA began buying those lots for the purpose of developing workforce housing. Due to that foresight, affordable housing options remain available in the neighborhood. 

From blighted to thriving

Today, the neighborhood known as The Tre by longtime residents is on its way to becoming a vibrant community with a growing inventory of affordable and market-rate housing and diversity of people and incomes. Now restored to its former glory, Emancipation Park, the oldest park in Houston, has reclaimed its position as the neighborhood’s crown jewel. Nearby, METRORail offers easy access to the University of Houston, Texas Southern University, the Museum District, the Texas Medical Center, and all points between and beyond. 

“This is what a complete community looks like,” said MRA Real Estate Manager Todd Edwards. “People want to live here again. That is driving a return of commerce. None of it would have happened without a reversal of the housing decline.”

Affordable options remain

Working with CCPPI and private and nonprofit builders, MRA develops the lots it owns into a mixture of single-family and rental housing. MRA subsidizes the land costs to keep prices affordable to individuals and families with incomes below 120% of the area’s median income. In return for the land subsidy, buyers must commit to staying in the homes for a specified number of years. Find out more about MRA’s affordable housing program here.