Midtown Addresses Houston Affordable Housing Crisis


Every day, affordable housing threatens the stability, growth and vitality of families in communities surrounding Midtown Houston and throughout the city. Recognizing this issue is not the same as addressing it.  The Midtown Redevelopment Authority (MRA) and Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone No. 2 (TIRZ) are parallel organizations that use incremental taxes generated in Midtown to provide basic infrastructure improvements, public right of way enhancements as well as addressing affordable housing concerns.  In fact, Midtown is required by law to spend one third of the increment on affordable housing projects. 

Nearly 20 years ago, Midtown began buying land tracts in the Southeast Houston area for the sole purpose of developing affordable housing neighborhoods. This approach, known as land banking, has allowed Midtown to leverage the land to reduce the costs of affordable housing for future residents and produce whole affordable housing communities by dispensing land tracts to developers at nominal cost thereby reducing the cost of producing good quality homes. As a result, families with area median incomes below 120% will be able to purchase homes in the neighborhood mitigating displacement of families who have called Third Ward their home for many generations. The area median income for 2020 is $65,394.

Our innovative approach to affordable housing offers a path to revitalizing the Southeast Houston communities without displacing residents. Midtown currently owns upwards of four million square feet of land in Third Ward and has begun moving forward with projects outlined in our Midtown Affordable Housing Plan and also referred to in the Southeast Housing Affordable Housing Initiative.  While prices in Midtown have increased significantly over the past 10 to 20 years, our leadership continues to seek opportunities to support and protect surrounding neighborhoods to retain and strengthen the rich cultural history of Houston communities.

In a partnership designed to serve families in need, improve neighborhoods and address Houston’s anticipated growth, the  Center for Civic & Public Policy Improvement (CCPPI),  and the MRA are committed to making the comfort of a safe, sound residence a possibility for Houstonians who are having difficulty making this a reality.

The catalyzing project began with the construction of the Affordable Housing Operations Center (AHOC), a Third Ward Affordable Housing Center serving as a hub with multi-level office spaces, ground floor retail, and most importantly, 20 multi-family units located just across the street. The next project, our 100-Home Initiative, is the first affordable housing community initiated in our strategic plan. 

The 100 Homes Initiative sets a new standard in Houston for economic, community and housing development by providing intact for sale single-family home subdivisions, as opposed to being scattered throughout existing subdivisions, reflecting a phenomenon that has not occurred since the 1990s.  The partners will develop three walkable subdivisions with beautiful design and lush green landscapes that are in harmony with the existing homes in this vibrant, tree-lined section of Houston. Moreover, the homes will be built on land that MRA has acquired for the express purpose of adding to the supply of affordable housing. 

In our OST/South Union Center neighborhood, which is inside Loop 610 and close to the Texas Medical Center, universities, and the Port of Houston, we built single family homes that allow convenient access to jobs and services via the METRORail Purple Line.  Our subdivisions will and have been developed as walkable communities with well designed, tree-lined housing for the purpose of creating a true community for its residents.

Houston overall and Midtown specifically have been major epicenters for population growth in Texas over the past decades.  In fact, GlobeSt.com states, “Midtown is one of the fastest growing neighborhoods and the third most densely populated square mile in the city, experiencing 50% population growth since 2012.  The Midtown Affordable Housing program is implemented throughout the City of Houston and has concentrated their efforts in Southeast Houston.

With growth in population comes an increase in housing costs, as more consumers compete for fewer resources. While this change may be good for the market, it creates barriers for homeowners and renters seeking to stay in their communities but feeling pressured to leave because they cannot afford to maintain their existing homes, purchase a new home, taxes or cannot turn down offers to sell for significant gains. For some residents, affordable housing has become the greatest challenge in family stability as this housing supply is resistant to market influences, thus paving the way for families to remain in the neighborhoods they’ve called home for generations. 

MRA and CCPPI have provided housing for formerly homeless persons, cash grants to support the development of affordable housing have been made to SEARCH, New HOPE Housing, Temenos CDC and ReWard Third Ward CDC, and in addition boast the following affordable housing accomplishments:

  • 236 multi-family apartment homes in Third Ward 
  • 30 duplex rentals in Third Ward 
  • 62 single-family for-sale homes in Third Ward 
  • 5 single-family homes in Greater OST/South Union 
  • 58 SRO units in Midtown Houston Tracts of land have been made available for a 112-unit senior housing development in Third Ward
  • 12 single-family for-sale homes in the Greater OST/South Union neighborhood. These units have not yet been built.


Looking Ahead 

Beyond the development of affordable homes, we anticipate, and research suggests these types of developments are the catalyst to economic growth and job creation.  The future communities are in prime locations with proximity to various amenities, including MacGregor Park, the Park at Palm Center, the Texans YMCA, the medical center, Texas Southern University, University of Houston, and Downtown Houston. The well-designed homes are attractive to many families in the area and the price makes homeownership attainable for low-to-moderate income families.

Developers will create six attractive new developments that are harmonious with existing neighborhoods in this eminently livable section of Houston. Construction will begin in the last quarter of 2020. Home sales are anticipated to begin in 2021. Our approach to land banking and investment in affordable housing initiatives means families will now have the opportunity to purchase homes in safe, stable neighborhoods.

By the end of September, Midtown will have secured developer agreements to produce in excess of 130 new affordable homes including 43 single family homes in Palmetto Place (OST/South Union), 70 homes in the Martin Luther King area, with one located across from KIPP Academy and an additional 24 homes in Third Ward.  To date, the partners have worked with developers who have extensive experience with affordable housing. 

Our Affordable Housing strategy provides not only affordable housing, it incorporates a wrap-around strategy that is inclusive of our Affordable Housing Operations Center (AHOC) located on Emancipation Avenue that will be completed by the end of 2020.  CCPPI, who is managing the leasing of the building is working with a local leasing team to secure appropriate tenants that will best serve the needs of the community.  

Affordable housing is a crisis experienced by too many Houstonians and here at Midtown we’re working with the community to provide a solution.

Staying in Touch

To learn more about our Midtown Affordable Housing plans click here.  Stay updated, please join us at our monthly Midtown Redevelopment Authority meetings held on the last Thursday of each month at 12:30 pm. 

For additional information contact CCPPI, Algenita Scott Davis, 346.204.4542

Stay tuned for additional articles about our Midtown Affordable Housing program!