Midtown Develops Affordable Housing in Southeast Houston & Third Ward

(photo courtesy of  Cole Klein Builders)

There is a trend in the lack of affordability in urban areas and in particular in the inner cities of places like Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. In major cities across the country, home ownership and rental costs have escalated substantially, driving people to the suburbs or outside the city limits to secure affordable housing. 

Midtown Houston is committed to providing affordable housing in Southeast Houston and Third Ward. Southeast Houston is the hub of education, the home to museums, and the heart of small business growth while The Third Ward has been designated as a historical neighborhood by the Texas Historical Commission. 

Prior to the creation of Midtown, the area was included in the historic Third Ward. With the creation and on-going development of Midtown, there is still a strong connection to the Third Ward and the greater Southeast Houston community. The two share common streets that serve as connectors as well as community centers, museums and opportunities for growth. 

But, why did Midtown purchase land in Southeast Houston and Third Ward? 

State Representative Garnet Coleman wrote in a 2019 Chronicle Op-Ed, “The historic northern Third Ward needs 1,200 new units of affordable housing and more units of moderately priced housing over the next 10 years just to meet existing demand within the neighborhood, according to the Historic Third Ward Strategic Implementation Framework.” 

To address the lack of affordable housing, Midtown was developed as a “petition TIRZ,” which requires one third of the increment to be dedicated to affordable housing, of which can be purchased anywhere in the City of Houston. When Midtown first began acquiring land in 2005, due to the success of the TIRZ, the land value inside the boundaries of Midtown had risen to $40 per square foot. While in our Southeast Houston neighboring communities, land was selling for $5-$6 per square foot. In other words, the ability to acquire more land meant ultimately Midtown could serve a greater need of more people. 

Midtown purchased land in Southeast Houston and Third Ward that we are developing in the community, in collaboration with our affordable housing partner, the Center for Civic and Public Policy Inprovement (CCPPI). These primarily vacant lots will have affordable housing built on them and be available to people who have historically lived in the neighborhood. 

It is our goal to have homes that can be purchased by teachers, medical workers, public servants, firefighters and more. The goal is to help people stay in the area where they grew up and where their extended families live, never to price people out. And, while our focus is discouraging displacement, our development is open to all. 

To that end, CCPPI working in collaboration with the Urban League, the Tejano Center and other local partners will provide first-time home buyer seminars. These seminars help guide new homeowners through the process of purchasing and maintaining homes as well as offering education information to help them on the path to ownership. 

Midtown and CCPPI continues to work with the City of Houston on improving infrastructure in these communities. We need enhanced pipes, smoother roads and sanitation that will help the community become stronger and support affordable housing. We have already developed more than 100 affordable homes and have recently voted to approve developer agreements to begin working on the next set of homes. Midtown will continue to build phase by phase, community by community. 

Southeast Houston, Third Ward and all Houston residents will benefit from affordable housing with access to public transportation and work centers in Midtown. We will all benefit from an enhanced quality of life.