HUD Orders Go-Ahead on Briargrove Affordable Housing Project or Something Kinda Like It

HUD ORDERS GO-AHEAD ON BRIARGROVE AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECT OR SOMETHING KINDA LIKE IT Proposed Housing Development at 2640 Fountainview Dr., Briargrove, Houston, 77057Houston Public Media reports that the city is mulling over its options with regards to the letter sent last week by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which relayed the agency’s findings that the nixing of the mixed-income apartment complex at 2640 Fountainview Dr. was based in part on “racially motivated local opposition.” Among other things, the letter orders the city to okay the project (or a similar project within another “low minority and high opportunity” census tract), to develop a plan to promote other similar projects in other low-poverty areas, and to work out incentives for property owners in those same areas to accept housing vouchers.  [Houston Public Media; previously on Swamplot] Images of proposed apartments at 2640 Fountainview Dr.: Houston Housing Authority

45 Comment

  • “Racially motivated local opposition”? Any evidence of that? Or has any opposition these days become automatically racially motivated?

  • Fountain view and Westheimer wasn’t even that nice of a location. These nimby people need to get over themselves.

    The people they were saying were going to bring the neighborhood down already are in that area. There are a ton of bus stops and cheap apartments on Westheimer between the beltway and 610.

  • So far this is playing out just about as expected. The City’s obstinance has resulted not only in HUD demanding that this or a similar project must go through, but also in focused attention drawn to the City’s politics. Now there will be more regulatory compliance burdens and even higher costs. Well done…

  • Mr. Turner is playing with a double edged sword here. The optimist says he is trying to rebuild poor neighborhoods (5th Ward, 2nd Ward, Etc.) that dont have the income to provide necessary infrastructure upgrades. The pessimist says that he is keeping poor people in poor neighborhoods with poor education to so the next generation is the same to ensure the historic voting blocks are not scattered due to gentrification.

  • Pfft. The logical extension of this project would be to depopulate poor areas and pile everyone into the “high opportunity neighborhoods”. The emptied out poor areas then become farmland or something, I guess.
    The city would help more lives sooner by improving the education, transit, and jobs situation in poor neighborhoods rather than placing a relatively small number of families into the Galleria area.

  • No doubt taxpayers are going to screwed even harder because of all this attention. Well done Turner, well done.

  • @ commonsense: Click on the link to the letter in the article and read through HUD’s findings and reasoning. Although I think that discrimination is occurring more along the lines of economic class (which is not illegal on its face), I’m inclined to mostly agree with them that opposition to this specific project was in some part racially motivated and that systematic discrimination by economic class has disproportionate adverse impacts on certain minorities — especially African-Americans. Going by the law as it stands, I think that Houston is in the wrong on this AND is wasting its limited resources on a losing battle.

  • @commonsense just read the Facebook group they made about it ….

  • I hear there’s a church in Linkwood Park about to waste their land on old people. Maybe bringing some young blood into that neighborhood would help.

  • I wonder how many parents will pull their kids out of Briargrove Elementary. Because that, more than anything else, was probably what this was about – freaked out parents worried about who their kids would go to school with.

  • @LocalPlanner – pulling their kids out of Briargrove Elementary would be self-defeating as that school is one of the main things supporting the ridiculous real estate prices in the neighborhoods immediately surrounding the school. For several years now, awesome 60’s ranch homes have become $500k tear-downs, replaced with 6,000+ sf monstrosities. Briargrove Elementary is already about 30% economically disadvantaged.

  • gosh read the comments on the abc 13 article and tell me it isnt racially motivated….

    “Part of Obama’s plan to destroy decent white neighborhoods”
    “The thugs will move in and take their share of Tanglewood.”
    “Hate to break it to you, but the only result will eventually be “white flight”, not an integrated neighborhood”
    “I feel like I’m ready to move to whitest neighborhood in The City of Houston.”

  • @ Skeptic: HISD retains the option of building, expanding, renovating, and/or re-zoning its elementary schools, but it has a mandate to provide for all comers, for every child in every corner of their district. This mandate exists independently of any other political or legal consideration. And before you embarrass yourself as others have done…those are not “your schools”. You do not own them. Go ahead and read through the deed to your house. I can ensure you that Briargrove Elementary is not mentioned therein as the exclusive domain of your platted lot subdivision; it is a *public* school which is administered by a *public* school district. Persons that pay a premium for housing in order to access particular schools of a particular demographic do so at their own peril, and for goodness sake this is a point that people have been learning and re-learning throughout the 63 years since Brown v. Board of Education and you’d think that that’d have been enough time. All of y’all need to pull your heads out of the sand on this one.

    @ Planner: That sort of thing might’ve been easier to rationalize in the 50’s and 60’s when white flight was a matter of course and you didn’t want to be the last man standing and couldn’t help but get caught up in it one way or the other, but this is 2017, the school is already mixed, circumstances are far more heterogeneous within the community in question, and the general trend favoring gentrification in and around inner-city neighborhoods like this is immutable. By contrast…anxiety and personality disorders are largely hereditary (like race, the difference being that race is not a sound basis to exclude a person from your kid’s life). My point being: if I were in their shoes as a Briargrove parent, I might actually be happy to see the children of freaked-out parents depart my kid’s school. It’s good for the neighborhood.

  • Looks like Hud smeared cm travis as being racist with 0 evidence of such.

  • @Skeptic Sounds like a similar situation to Oak Forest because of Oak Forest Elementary. Nice older homes all torn down for the Nimbys to move in and build McMansions so they can enjoy living close in and send their Precious offspring to a good school. I can’t even begin to imagine the uproar that would come if someone wanted to build a project like this near there.

  • The math on the project doesn’t work! You could have purchased a brand new deal built by a major developer for $50,000 per unit less than the HUD project was to be built for! Everyone is getting screwed by HUD. Make deals that are good deals for all and quit screwing the citizens.

  • commonsense, it’s really not that hard to line up the dots. this is a development for low income housing. the local residents are the only opposition to this. looking at the demographic makeup of the area from the last census shows it is predominantly a white neighborhood. If you look at other demographics of Houston, most people that fit the low income bracket are minorities. ergo, it’s a racial thing. with a name like commonsense, you’d think you could figure that out without having to be led by the nose.

  • @toasty, correlation is not causality, you should know better. Do people who dislike Mexican food dislike it solely because it’s made by brown people or is it because of the jalapeño diarrhea? Your line of logic would indicate that anti-gentrification movement is purely a racist (anti-white) movement and the somewhat valid financial and and displacement issues are irrelevant.

  • @toasty. Don’t get it twisted. Are minorities that resist/oppose gentrification doing so because they dislike white people? Are they racists? Lemme know.

    Not all about race. Condolences. PC culture on the way out.

    Stay safe.


  • @TheNiche, thanks for the lecture, but I doubt people in the immediate vicinity of the school are at risk of being rezoned elsewhere. I appreciate it’s a risk, but largely theoretical. We can all agree that property within a few blocks of a good school is worth more than property on the fringe of the attendance zone. Those that live close by will fight tooth and nail to keep out as many economically disadvantaged kids as possible.

  • @ Niche: Your point is well taken. Given how closely tied property values are to school zoning, though, I have to wonder if even those who would otherwise be happy to remain in the school would be concerned about their home’s market prospects if the project tilts the ED% significantly above 30%, which in my observation has been about the absolute maximum affluent parents are willing to tolerate in the greater market (other than at magnet schools). So maybe it’s not what the parents who are OK with sharing their school with poorer students think will happen specifically to their child, but what they think the greater market will perceive and how that translates to potential home price appreciation.

  • Sooooo, when do we rename Briargrove elementary?

  • You might not have a right vested in your deed to send your kids to a particular school, but you have the right to oppose a project that has the possibility of rezoning your neighborhood out of an attendance zone. But I guess all the kidless inside-the-looper’s who frequent the comments section of Swamplot are free to consider this a racist or idiotic viewpoint. The reason that folks outside the Briargrove attendance zone should oppose this project is that it’s an egregious waste of taxpayer dollars.

  • Does anyone have a case study that shows % low income housing in a school zone and the tie to overall school performance?

  • commonsense and boarcoon, I’d love to agree with you, but I just can’t.
    “As the five-month investigation by the federal department of Housing and Urban Development found, out of 91 projects the city allowed to move forward with low-income housing tax credits, 85 percent were in Council districts with a non-white majority population. The rest tended to be for elderly residents, which do not serve families with young children.
    “The evidence indicates that the city’s process for approving and siting LIHTC developments reinforces and perpetuates existing patterns of segregation,” wrote Garry Sweeney, director of the HUD’s Fort Worth office for fair housing and equal opportunity.”
    that’s direct from a chron article that quotes HUD.

  • Isn’t this a moot point once Trump and Carson take office? Are we wasting internet even talking about this?

  • @Mr.Clean19, you can find raw ACT/SAT/PSAT results at the HISD website, along with college-readiness assessments. The SAT results are broken down by categories you might want to correlate against. FWIW, the “Econ Disadv” average is about 80 points per section lower than the “Non-Econ Disadv”. I am carefully not drawing any conclusions or attempting to suggest causality in any direction, merely pointing at the data.

  • @ Mr.Clean: I’m not aware aware of any studies specifically as you describe (though they might exist), but there are many studies showing academic performance of both individual students and schools (with non-selective admission) correlating very directly with household income levels; the greater the share of students from lower income households, the lower the overall academic performance of the school by various measures.

  • @ Briar: HUD requires Davis-Bacon wages for all the construction projects it funds, no matter what kind of neighborhood. This means all HUD construction projects are overly expensive.

  • I get the feeling these type of conversations are never properly framed around doing what’s best for the taxpayer and that taxpayers are always happy to give in to the NIMBY’s. If you’re concerned about waste and maximizing return on value with our money that has already been allocated for expenditure, then there’s a very clear cut case with numerous reasons for the city to proceed forward with the Briargrove location.
    Just as Parker was more than happy to waste taxpayers money due to NIMBY’s, so is Turner, Houston be damned.

  • @Local Planner, You mean to tell me that HUD/federal projects can’t use prevailing migrant labor rates? What a waste of taxpayer money.

  • @ Toasty – Of Course HUD is going to say that. I’m not sure what their point is. Like the GOV doing a 5 month study to find out water is wet. Do they really need to do a study to find out that housing projects are located in non-white areas which tend to be (on the average) not as “opportunity rich” areas? GOV usually = dummies IMHO. YMMV

    The reason these areas are nice/advantaged/have good schools is precisely because (mostly) wealthy people live there and have made them that way – usually over many decades. Generalizations here but – They tend to take better care of their property, have money to spend at nice retailers/restaurants, grocers, commit less crimes, draw less graffiti, etc. Funny thing about generalizations is they are generally right! ya feel me?!

    The schools are nice because the parents really care/enforce learning as priorite at home/can spend money on school and a lot of the rooftops send their kids to private schools (may not be true for BG with all the apartments) thereby lessening the burden on the public schools (while still paying exorbitant ad valorem taxes).

    As others have pointed out, HUD projects are overly expensive and inefficient….so they usually need to go in not prime areas (cheap land) so they don’t end up with 260k/door projects. The subject site isn’t prime, but it is housing project prime for sure.

    I may want to live in River Oaks or the Villages, but this is the USA…..and if i want to live there, I’m going to have to pay for it. Lots of low cost multifamily options that are zoned to Briargrove Elementary.

    Sort of like participation trophies. Not the same if you don’t earn it.

    Last thought – have you been to BG Elementary? It is pretty diverse. Someone told me Farsi is the second most common language there. Flat out didn’t believe them. Signs and wonders.

    Take care and stay safe.

  • @toasty, sure this affects minority populations disproportionately, but “racism” is not the root cause, socioeconomic factors are, and socioeconomic factors are valid factors with basis in capitalist exonomics and realities of life. I’d boil it down to Tanglewood people being of thought “I’m not against YOU, I’m just for ME”, which is a founding principle in Capitalism.

  • The high land cost combined with the project design is where the waste lies. Labor costs aren’t a consideration. Have any of y’all seen the proposed budget?

  • If you cut through all the rhetoric, all this is about is money. All those fools who bought into Briargrove at overly inflated prices are just hoping the music doesn’t stop when their children move on to middle school and they need to sell to upgrade to a home in Memorial. Sure would be a shame if that 1.2mil you dropped on that “Midcentury Mediterranean Tudor” suddenly became a 250k flophouse next door to a family of people who use their hands to make a living.

  • I live in a townhouse less than a half block from the proposed development. I have no children at Briargrove school. I am retired with fixed income.

    I am absolutly sick of being called a racist. There were a legion of valid reasons involving true impact on traffic, school overcrowding, development costs etc to say that this is a bad idea. The impact of even the possibility of this development has already been severe. Drive down Westheimer and the impact is startling obvious.

    Because I am opposed to this does not make me a racist. I did not vote for Mr. Trump but can see easily now how he got elected.

  • @ Mr. Clean: It would be difficult to identify an applicable case study for Houston because these affordable housing projects are rarely developed in affluent neighborhoods. It is entirely possible, given that affordable housing projects are beholden to strict requirements about how they must be built and operated, that the tenant base of an LIHTC project would actually have a positive effect upon schools in especially poor neighborhoods. However…when I say that, I mean it in the sense that the school averages would be raised-up. That doesn’t necessarily mean that, as a group, kids that had already lived in the host neighborhood would be affected positively or negatively one way or the other — and that’s what we would want to know.

  • I went to Briargrove, class of 2000. And was the second class to go through Grady Middle School. The parents made both schools. From the valentunes, to the cascarones at the carnival, to huckle buckle bean stock in PE. The schools were not any where what they are today, then. The parents went out of their way to help and now those same people are being persecuted by people they have never even met. It is so sad how the “r” word gets thrown around these days. Sad.

  • I guess my question around case studies is more about other cities… Boston, Chicago, New York (Although they created a separate entrance for affordable housing tenants). When it comes to money, well off areas like Briargrove doesnt need government HUD funding as much as low income communities. Which is why you see so many affordable housing projects in low income areas. If you want to redevelop low income areas, you need government assistance, if you take government assistance you need government housing, and if you add government housing then you stall development.

  • anonymous, your problems with this development: traffic, school overcrowding, development costs.
    those are terrific reasons to be against this project. However, the legions of condos and apartment buildings that have gone up over on Post Oak Blvd have had a far greater impact on traffic and school overcrowding than this unit ever could. have you been against those as well?
    as far as the development costs, outside of the land value, the build costs would be the same in 3rd ward as they are here.
    So while you claim to not be a racist, those 3 arguments are very slim.

  • Quit whining you precious snowflakes. If you don’t want HUD to cite “racially motived rhetoric” then tell your neighbors and community members to stop posting ignorant and wholly unfounded accusations online. They’re not calling people racist (where in the report did they call someone a racist?), but the rhetoric, obviously yes. So, change the rhetoric snowflakes.
    Now, one could say that perpetuating the segregation of lower income people only deepens the modern day “socioeconomic realities” that are directly attributed to america’s racist past, but that’s not the discussion at hand here. The Feds are giving us money to spend, so why are we trying to bite the hand that feeds us and potentially lose funding. This sounds dumb to me.
    Paying good money to send kids to schools where students must contend with non-academic issues in learning environments on a daily basis lowers their academic achievement, impacts future productivity and waste taxpayers money. It’s not how you build a well educated and mobile workforce required to keep high productivity levels. Is anyone surprised that Houston has always relied on importing our talent?
    But hey, I guess wanting to get the most for my community and neighbors money is selfish of me. Good thing we have a Crybaby-in-Cheif about to take the reigns indeed, aye.

  • “those are terrific reasons to be against this project. However, the legions of condos and apartment buildings that have gone up over on Post Oak Blvd have had a far greater impact on traffic and school overcrowding than this unit ever could. have you been against those as well?”

    Do you really not understand free market capitalism versus using tax payers money?

    Again Grady, now Tanglewood is a perfect example of a strong community coming together. That is how we roll(ed)

  • The school is already overcrowded per HISD. Every new multifamily project in the attendance zone exacerbates the problem, however there is no mechanism for stopping private MF developments in Houston. Additionally, most of the $1800/month one-bedroom units going up are occupied by young’uns without kids or emptynesters.

  • @jgbiggs sure is easy to throw insults from your bungalow in the heights…

  • You know, the children are the ones who will be affected ,who will suffer and who will have to cope with this type socialistic impositioning. I was one of those…white… children…teen… affected by racial integration in south Atlanta in the 1970’s. Our school, initially was 100percent white , was integrated and became 50 percent white and continually dropped in white percentage until it became 100 percent black. Was it a learning improvement for both races? Did integration solve any racial inequities realistically or did it serve to only exacerbate the differences we had in living and interpreting life? We are all created equal but we have, racially, our own interpretations of life unless we are pressured by a majority to conform to their ways. Are white families just clamoring to move into black or Hispanic neighborhoods to give their children a more racially ethical education? And, if this is a question of economics and not race, why not invite low income white people to make up the percentage of the racial demographic in the immediate area? What Turner is doing is retribution politics and will further divide this gloriously diversified city into more division.