Midtown Houston’s Commitment to Affordable Housing in Houston
Revitalization often comes at the price of affordability, which is why, for more than 20 years, the Midtown Redevelopment Authority (MRA) has worked to ensure that the neighborhoods they serve remain accessible to low-to-moderate income families. In October of 2018, MRA and the Center for Civic and Public Policy Improvement (CCPPI) announced the 100-Homes Initiative– an affordable housing plan that sets a new precedent for such developments.
The first phase of this plan–development of three walkable, lushly landscaped subdivisions–is currently underway in the Greater OST/South Union Neighborhood. This new development has been strategically planned to provide access to amenities such as MacGregor Park, the Young Branch Library, the Texas Medical Center, and the University of Houston, as well as METRO’s Purple Line Light Rail Transit and two elementary schools. Representing the beginning of multiple new affordable housing developments, this particular project is designed to mesh seamlessly with the existing homes in this tree-lined area.
This project represents the culmination of more than a decade of effort, opening a path to homeownership for families in the area with incomes under 120% of the median, currently $74,900. Families that fall within this income range include firefighters, police officers, nurses, and teachers– hardworking community members who deserve the chance to own a home in a safe neighborhood. The first 100 homes will be on the market by the end of 2019.
This type of development hasn’t been seen since the 1990s and is a welcome return to a model that focuses on economic, community and housing development simultaneously. This project aims to do more than merely construct housing: it aims to support the cultivation of a true community. Rather than marginalizing the community that gave this area its character, projects like this invite residents to continue to be a part of the neighborhood that they love.
MRA is required by state law to use 30% of their revenue on affordable housing. Nearly 20 years ago, it began purchasing land tracts in the Third Ward area with the goal of developing affordable housing communities. “This innovative approach to affordable housing revitalizes the Third Ward community without displacing residents,” says Matt Thibodeaux, the executive director of MRA. He adds, “We hope the construction of new homes will provide economic growth and create jobs. When one community succeeds, we all succeed.”
Riding on the success of this project will be a wave of low-income developments built in the same spirit: offering desirable, high-quality housing to residents of all income levels in order to preserve the cultural integrity of our community.