midtown houston affordable housing

Homeownership is within reach even if there are credit issues


There is a sense of pride and satisfaction that comes from walking through the front door of your own home for the first time. Getting to that point, however, can often be confusing, complicated and scary. This is especially true for first-time homebuyers with credit blemishes, low credit scores or other life challenges. A little bit of one-on-one financial counseling is the way to clear the path. Just ask Melvin Halsey. 

In 2015, Halsey was serving time in the Walls Unit in Huntsville. Today, this veteran is out of prison, has a job and is the proud owner of his own home in the Greater Third Ward area.

“I had several barriers to face,” said Halsey. “The dream came true in 2019. I was so happy to move into this house.”

Halsey is a homeowner thanks to the Southeast Houston Affordable Housing Initiative offered by the  Midtown Redevelopment Authority (MRA) and the Center for Civic and Public Policy Improvement (CCPPI). Participants go through a homebuyer education class taught by U.S. Housing and Urban Development-certified instructors at the Houston Area Urban League. They learn about credit scores, preparing for homeownership, creating a household budget and how to avoid problems with mortgage approval.

“It is so critical for future homeowners to know about their credit score and how it impacts their ability to qualify for a mortgage,” said CCPPI Housing Program Manager Algenita Scott Davis. “Buying a new car, big screen TV, new furniture, or anything else that will increase how much debt you have is not wise when trying to buy a home. All of that can wait.”

The class lasts for a few weeks, allowing time for repair of any credit issues that might be standing in the way of becoming a homeowner.

MRA and CCPPI are working with for-profit and nonprofit builders and organizations. More than 1,000 parcels of land have been purchased and banked over the last two decades. With no land costs, overall development costs go down considerably, allowing for a final product that is affordable for working-class individuals and families.

The program prohibits homeowners from selling their homes for a minimum of 10 years. If they leave before the end of that timeframe, they will have to repay the cost of the land included for free in their initial purchase. This requirement provides stability for the neighborhood.

You can find out more about the program and read past articles here.