08/09/16 12:15pm

HOUSTON HOUSING AUTHORITY AUTHORITY RESIGNS IN WAKE OF BRIARGROVE MIXED-INCOME KERFUFFLE Proposed Housing Development at 2640 Fountainview Dr., Briargrove, Houston, 77057By both letter and Tweet, Houston Housing Authority chairman Lance Gilliam has announced plans to resign early following Mayor Turner’s criticism of the agency last week, writes Erin Mulvaney. During Wednesday’s council meeting, Turner chided the agency for not having constructed new housing units in the past decade (though Gilliam’s Friday resignation letter notes that thousands of additional people have been added to the organization’s voucher program). The agency has had the majority of its recent proposed construction projects blocked following last year’s US Supreme Court decision, which struck down Texas’s system of awarding public housing project tax credits because it was found to promote racial segregation into low-income areas (deliberately or not). The Briargrove project, which involved replacing one of the Houston Housing Authority’s own Fountain View office buildings with a mixed-income apartment complex, was the Houston agency’s first attempt to build new affordable units in a high-income area; following extensive neighborhood pushback, Turner asked the agency to look for other locations in the same area, and blocked tax credit financing for the project by not bringing it to a council vote. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of proposed apartments at 2640 Fountain View Dr.: HHA

03/11/16 11:00am

Site of Proposed Housing Development at 2640 Fountainview Dr., Briargrove, Houston, 77057

Site of Proposed Housing Development at 2640 Fountainview Dr., Briargrove, Houston, 77057Here are some shots from the scene of the Houston Housing Authority’s office park on Fountain View Dr. north of Westheimer Rd., which the organization is planning to partially demolish and replace with a 233-unit mixed-income apartment complex. The sign shown here went up last month to advertise this week’s public meeting on the proposed construction, which drew standing-room-only crowds to the auditorium of Briargrove Elementary. A group of neighborhood residents is campaigning to stop the project; listed grievances include a lack of transparency surrounding the project, and asserting that school overcrowding wasn’t considered when HHA picked the spot.

The property, just north of the vacant H-E-B northwest of the corner with Westheimer, currently holds 2 office buildings sporting gently-bent-rectangular floorplans (that’s 2650 in the foreground, in the photo above, with 2640 behind it). An aerial rendering released by HHA shows 2640 swapped out for the apartment building, with the southern office building still in place below it:


Trading Spaces
07/06/15 12:45pm

Following up on last month’s Supreme Court decision highlighting the segregation effects of Texas’s low-income housing programs, Chronicle reporter Jayme Fraser has a few observations about how the Housing Tax Credit program has been administered around here — after studying the above map, which she assembled to show the location and details of every Houston-area property involved in the program from its start in 1987 through 2013. Using federal funds, the Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs offers tax incentives to private apartment developers in exchange for guarantees to keep rents on new or rehabbed complexes below the market rate.


Low-Income Housing Map
04/24/13 10:00am

Maybe they’re not ready for tenants to move in, but these Fourth Ward shotgun houses seem to have avoided demolition and potential displacement to find a new home in Freedman’s Town. Originally located on Victor St., just a few blocks south of this formerly vacant lot at 1414 Robin St., the 3 houses weren’t doing much at the rear of the site of the proposed 5-story mixed-use Dolce Living development. A rep from the Fourth Ward Redevelopment Authority says that the houses were donated to the authority by the owners and will be preserved and renovated into low-income housing; designs for the new bathrooms and porches are already underway, the rep says.


01/18/13 4:00pm

NIMBY IN PASADENA This scruffy corner at Genoa Red Bluff and Space Center, right on the border between Pasadena and Houston, is the proposed site of a few 90- to 150-unit housing developments for low-income residents — a category which can include seniors and those with disabilities, reports teevee’s Samica Knight. But one potential neighbor Knight interviews doesn’t seem likely to prepare any welcome baskets: “‘If I had been looking for a new home and there had been low income property across, I wouldn’t have chosen this neighborhood,‘ said Pasadena resident Janet McClellan. ‘I would be afraid of crime, more crime. . . . Everybody does have to have a place to live, but I just think there are better more appropriate places to build those kinds of homes.'” [abc13] Photo: abc13

01/07/13 10:00am

So these apartments might not have the same shimmery glamour as their namesake, Beyoncé Knowles. But the pop star and Houston native, moved by the devastation in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, did chip in with her sister, Solange, and mother, Tina — as well as Destiny’s Child co-star Kelly Rowland, St. John’s United, and Temenos CDC — to help provide housing for Houston’s low-income and homeless populations.

The 43-unit building (shown above) at 1719 Gray went up in 2007. Now, Temenos has laid out on its website plans for a second building — with almost twice as many units as the original — at 2200 Jefferson, less than a mile away on the east side of I-45.

There’s no mention whether Beyoncé is involved in Phase II. But there are renderings:


06/28/11 3:04pm

JACK JOHNSON, STILL DRAWING THE CROWDS IN GALVESTON On the agenda for the next meeting of GRACE, the homeownership organization in charge of The Oaks housing development at 4300 Broadway in Galveston: A discussion of Earl Jones’s sculpture of former world heavyweight boxing champion and Galveston native Jack Johnson, carved out of the trunk of a subdivision oak tree killed by Hurricane Ike. Homeowners association President Frank Rivera has been campaigning to have the stature moved. His complaint: That the Johnson statue was bringing a stream of tourists and other visitors to the neighborhood, creating traffic and disrupting the peace. But a canvas of residents over the weekend by 2 housing authority board members turned up only 2 who said they didn’t want the sculpture. [Galveston County Daily News; background; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Click2Houston

04/04/11 1:20pm

WHAT COUNTS FOR PUBLIC HOUSING IN HOUSTON The failure of the Houston Housing Authority’s “scattered sites” program has left the city agency as the proud owner of 174 vacant and decaying homes about town: “The houses, 365 in all, were purchased from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1987 and 1988. The agency upgraded the homes and opened them to public housing tenants as a way to provide rental houses to low-income families and eventually, a bridge for first-time homeownership. Since it began in the mid-1990s, the HHA program sold 191 houses, just over half. But in 2004, believing the houses would be more easily sold if renters weren’t living in them, they began moving tenants out. As of 2006, according to their records, 104 homes were still rented. Now, there are none. And yet, since 2007, just 27 houses have been sold – a mere dozen last year.” [Houston Chronicle]

01/26/11 11:32am

Having awarded a “development of distinction” award last night to New Hope Housing’s Brays Crossing project, ULI Houston is now letting y’all see the promo video, a slightly different version of which we posted briefly last week. Details and videos on other award winners here.

01/20/11 4:14pm

Update, 1/21: Hey, what happened here? Urban Land Institute Houston executive director Ann Taylor writes in: “I’m sorry that we had to remove the New Hope Housing at Brays Crossing video, but it was not ready for prime time…still being edited to include more ‘before’ images and to add footage of the courtyards and gardens. It and all of the Awards Finalist videos will be screened for the public at the ULI Houston Development of Distinction Awards on Tuesday, Jan. 25.” We hope to post the finished video after that date.

Video: Cosmic Light Productions

02/11/10 2:30pm

HOUSTON HOUSING AUTHORITY HOPING TO FIND BUYERS WHO ARE MORE WELL-TO-DO The Houston agency charged with providing affordable housing options has come up with an interesting response to criticism that it’s been giving the runaround to low-income applicants trying to buy the more than 200 homes it has for sale. Potential buyers and real estate agents tell Fox 26’s Randy Wallace that the Houston Housing Authority “would constantly make requirement changes even with verbal and written contracts in place.” As a result, the authority has only closed on 7 of the homes in the last 6 months. Too late to be included in the TV report, HHA Vice President for External Affairs Dennis Spellman sends Wallace a letter with some exciting news! The organization has decided to do away with income requirements for its Scattered Sites home program. Yes, that means that low-income applicants earning less than 80 percent of the area’s median income will now have the opportunity to bid against more well-off buyers for the same properties. [MyFox Houston, via Texas Watchdog; HHA response letter (PDF)]

09/01/09 11:28am

LOW-INCOME VETERANS’ HOUSING IN BRIDGELAND U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates presented the keys to a new lakeside cul-de-sac home in Bridgeland yesterday to Purple Heart recipient Capt. Daniel Moran, USMC (Ret.). Moran, who was severely injured twice while on duty in Iraq, qualified for a low-cost housing program for disabled veterans administered by HelpingaHero.org. “The new 3,300-square-foot home was funded by the Strake Foundation, Rex and Marilyn King and the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. Perry Homes built it with special accommodations for Moran’s physical condition. It features tinted windows, a high-efficiency air conditioner and heating system and other enhanced temperature-control measures because Moran is no longer able to control his body temperature. The lot was selected to allow the least amount of direct sunlight into the home. The house also includes an extended covered porch to allow him to spend time outdoors with his two children, Trey 4, and Macy, 2, without direct sun exposure.” [DefenseLink]

04/14/09 10:15pm

A “DEEP RENOVATION” GONE WRONG A building collapse this afternoon killed at least one worker and seriously injured 2 others at Brays Crossing, a 6-building, low-cost apartment project being fashioned from the former HouTex Inn on I-45 just north of Griggs Road, near Forest Park Cemetery. “The two-story building collapsed as construction workers were replacing joists and the structure began to shift, said Richard Cole, chief of the fire department’s rescue team. The original building was a wooden frame building and had no steel beams for the support needed, he said. . . . New Hope Housing, the city’s partner on the 149-room apartment complex, bought the inn and hired Camden Builders to rehab it beginning in January. When it’s finished, small, single room occupancy apartments will be rented to the newly homeless, said Richard Celli, the city’s director of housing and community development.” [Houston Chronicle; schematic diagram (PDF)]

08/08/07 10:13am

Katy residents upset with the prospect of a new low-income housing development in their community have won a round: Elrod Place, a 126-unit, 25-acre project proposed for 3700 Elrod Place—near Katy’s Bridgewater subdivision—won’t be able to get the $12 million in state housing tax credits the developers had applied for. The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs has denied the application by Barry Kahn of Hettig/Kahn Holdings.

04/25/07 9:48am

Construction of Waterside Court by Hettig-Kahn Holdings

One of the advantages of covering real estate throughout an area is the opportunity to spot larger opportunities—in issues that at first glance might seem only of interest to a particular neighborhood. Communities battling with new development, for example, might benefit from hearing how residents in other locations might deal with similar situations.

Over in Katy, residents up in arms about a low-income housing development proposed near the intersection of Clay and Elrod have been actively challenging the rosy picture of the low-density project presented by developer Barry Kahn. Residents of the nearby Bridgewater subdivision have been joined by the Katy Area Economic Development Council, Katy Rep. Bill Callegari, and the Katy Area Economic Development Council in opposition to Elrod Place, which would consist of 76 single-family homes and 50 apartment units for seniors.

Their complaints? The project would lower home values, put a strain on area schools, and increase crime in the neighborhood.

The Katy Area Economic Development Council sent a letter to state officials claiming that Katy was the wrong location for this project:

Our opposition should not be construed as a referendum on the need or lack thereof of affordable housing. We do not feel that the development of a project of this type is compatible with the stated goals and objectives of the Katy area.

More succinct are the comments of Jeff, one of many posters to news websites covering the controversy:

Fact is, Mr. Kahn just needs to pack his bags and go elsewhere. In fact, if he is such a philanthropist and wants to help the disadvantaged, why does’n he house 4 families of 4 in his 6000+ sqft mansion? Hmm…….


This development must be stopped. We do not want Katy to become like the inner-city of Houston. We do not want an overburdened and underfunded school system. We do not want high-crime where gangs control neighborhoods while citizens lock themseves in their homes behind barred windows and doors.

This is what many of us moved to Katy to escape from.

So . . . readers, can we help out the people of Katy? Got a better spot for this development in your neighborhood? Just let us know, and we’ll pass the information on to Mr. Kahn. We’ll be waiting patiently for your email.

Photo of Waterside Court, another development by Hettig/Kahn in northwest Houston, under construction: Hettig/Kahn Holdings