Here’s another helpful online tool from the civic hackers at Sketch City, this one for would-be volunteers: a crowdsourced, interactive map showing which shelters near you are in need of what resources — and which ones might need people to come over and help out. Each icon on the map represents a shelter or providing organization that’s helping evacuees who’ve been put out of their homes by Harvey flooding. Click on one and a panel on the left will indicate any supply needs or volunteer needs identified by the site. (A larger, full-browser-width version of the map is here.)
The map was put together by Amanda Shih, Dr. Neeraj Tandon, and Chris Ertel, and is linked to data assembled and continually updated by a group of dozens of local and not-so-local volunteers hooked up to the project by Sketch City, a Houston nonprofit technology group. (The same bank of is behind Sketch City’s other new mapping project — one that simply identifies available Harvey shelters to people seeking them.) The volunteers have been making regular phone calls to update the information in a shared Google Doc. (If that kind of call-and-type-from-home work is your preferred method of volunteering, go ahead — you’ll find a direct link to the underlying spreadsheet in the map.)
Here’s a crowdsourced, interactive map showing more than 180 shelters and shelter-ish locations set up in the last few days to take in evacuees separated from soggy homes as a result of Harvey flooding. Most of the indicated locations are in the Houston area, but others farther afield have been added (and are welcome) as well.
To use the map, you’ll first want to click on the icon just below the top left corner to toggle off the legend. Then you can zoom in or out or pan around, and click directly on each location to read details — such as the address, phone number, whether there’s room for more people, and how recently the information has been updated. You can access a larger version of the map directly by going to houstonsheltermap.com.
If the map provides more info than you need right now, there’s an easier way to find the closest shelter to you that’s still accepting newcomers: Just text your Zip Code (the one where you are; it doesn’t have to be your home address) to 346-214-0739. It’s set up to text you back the location of the nearest open hurricane shelter.
COMMENT OF THE DAY SECOND RUNNER-UP: HOUSTON’S BIG BOUNDARY ADVANTAGE “. . . One of the reasons that Houston manages to buck trends affecting other central cities is that Houston is orders of magnitude larger than many central cities. Within its incorporated city limits, Houston could contain all of Manhattan, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington DC, Boston, and then have room enough left over for Santa Barbara. That means that Houston contains its first-ring suburbs, most of its second-ring, and even some some third-ring; and then it also does this funky “limited-purpose annexation” scheme in the northwest suburbs and has a special non-annexation deal with The Woodlands to keep those areas as an unincorporated buffer zone from which they are still somewhat able to tap commercial property tax revenues from those areas. And as demographic pressures push and pull people across different regions, Houston has to adapt to all of those trends simultaneously, but it also has a diversified-enough tax base to be able to do so — you know, presuming that its elected officials never do anything especially stupid like capping revenues and also underfunding pensions for decades.” [TheNiche, commenting on North Houston Amazon Fulfillment Center Opens; Qui Now Taking Reservations; Ending the ‘Dry Heights’] Illustration: Lulu
Houston doesn’t show up anywhere in Attom Data Solutions latest rankings of the nation’s home-flipping hotspots, but zoom into the heatmap accompanying the company’s first-quarter report and you’ll find some interesting neighborhoods highlighted. Attom defines a home flip as a single-family home or condo that sells twice within a 12-month period in arms-length transactions (as recorded in public sales deeds). From January through March of this year, it counted 14 flippy transactions in the 77088 Zip Code — which is bounded roughly by I-45, W. Little York, the Tomball Pkwy., and Houston-Rosslyn Rd. and includes Acres Homes — accounting for 18.7 percent of sales in the area — the highest percentage in Houston. Next-strongest home-flipping hotspots: 77096 (Meyerland and Westbury), with 10 flips accounting for 13.7 percent of sales; 77089 (Southbelt and part of Pearland) also with 10 flips totaling 12.2 percent; 77373 in Spring with 22 flips (but only reaching 11.6 percent); and 77018, (Garden Oaks and Oak Forest), which saw 11 flips, or 9.4 percent of that area’s transactions.
Update, November 22: The finalized county precinct data has been incorporated into the map above; a layer showing voter turnout has been added as well.
With all 1,012 precincts shaded in by civic data whiz Jeff Reichman, the interactive map above of last week’s election results shows both stark splits and gray areas in blue-swung Harris County, which gave only 41.8 percent of its vote to Wrestlemania hall-of-famer and historically litigious president-electDonald Trump. The red-to-blue shading shows who won by what percentage, with results ranging from count-’em-on-one-hand margins to total blowouts for one major candidate or the other. You can click on each precinct to see the breakdown of votes and turnout (though Stein, Johnson, and McMullin voters will have to look elsewhere for the details on those candidates’ spreads).
On the east side of town, the red-blue divide runs roughly along the track of Beltway 8; the border of that central dark blue zone stretches north to include Greenspoint and then runs east along FM 1960 to 290. The split gets murkier on the west side of the Inner and Outer Loops, with many precincts showing much closer margins. More noticeably red areas inside Beltway 8 show up near Memorial,River Oaks, Bellaire, and Shepherd Park Plaza — plus spots like tiny Precinct 0830 on S. Main, where Trump took a total of 3 votes to Clinton’s 1.
Have you seen this video (at top) from the city’s planning and development department? It’s silent, several years old, and not the flashiest portrait of Houston available on YouTube. But in a compelling series of images, it shows how mightily the city’s official boundaries have grown — simply by tracking Houston’s annexation history, decade by decade.
But now there’s a more active way to appreciate Houston’s historically bulging waistline — one that could even help increase your own in the process (depending on your choice of beverages). Each of the 5 laser-cut acrylic coasters in Data Design Co.‘s limited-edition set (shown in the photo above) is etched with an outline of this ever-expanding city at some point in its history. Designers Brian Barr and Matthew Wettergreen had the sets manufactured in Houston by Post-Studio, and are now offering them for sale for $60. Buy a set, and try one beverage on each over the course of an evening of thirst-quenching, and you’ll allow yourself to drink in a progressive view of this city’s expansive growth.
HOUSTONIANS THINK HOUSTON IS 63 PERCENT URBAN, KINDA In a guest post for ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight, Trulia’s chief economist trots out a bunch of maps and charts that purport to show that Houston, unlike the other 5 most populous U.S. cities, is actually only 63 percent urban. But among the lower-downs on that list, Houston isn’t the big suburban metropolis standout. Phoenix and San Antonio rate half of Houston’s urbanity, and even San Diego comes in at a sprawling 49 percent. Of course, there’s the small question of how anyone determines whether a place is urban. Trulia went with the old “know it when I see it” rule, rating a Zip Code urban if its residents called it urban, suburban if they called it so, and rural otherwise. But with only 2,008 responses to their online survey, the company had to resort to other measures to fill out its maps for Houston (above) and several other cities, including figures for the density of households within a particular Zip Code. [FiveThirtyEight] Map: FiveThirtyEight
Blogger and amateur bedding-sales analyst Christopher Andrews has updated a few of his maps of mattress chain stores in the Houston area (including the one shown above) to include Mattress One (or Mattress1 One, or Mattress 1 One, as the company variously refers to itself). Altogether, that Florida-and-Texas chain, plus Mattress Firm and Mattress Pro (owned by Mattress Firm), operate 166 separate retail locations in the region.
“Now we know why we seem to have hit peak mattress along Westheimer,” declares Christopher Andrews, after producing and walking through a series of maps intended to shed light on where in the Houston area and why Mattress Firm has opened 92 separate showrooms, and is working on another 19 for the lower-priced “competitor” the same company operates, Mattress Pro. The highlights from his analysis are the 2 maps excerpted here, showing (at top) the correlation between areas with lots of apartments (dark green) and the stores (red for Mattress Firm, blue for the usually outside-the-Loop Mattress Pro); and (above) a Learning from Las Vegas-style diagram of Houston’s very own Mattress Corridor.
Houston may be the sleepy chain store’s hometown, but it’s not the only beneficiary of all that new retail padding; in the 14 weeks ending February 3rd alone, Mattress Firm opened or acquired 118 new U.S. stores.
A reader tells Swamplot that he thinks recent newscoverage of population projections from the state demographer up until the year 2050 have missed the big story: The dramatic projected growth of the over 60 population in Harris County. Between 2010 and 2050, it’s expected to more than triple, from around 500,000 at the turn of the decade to about 1.5 million in 35 years.
To illustrate, RobertinHeights sends in the chart above, showing how increases in the older age segment will dominate others in the coming decades. “By 2040 we will have an over 60 population in Harris County that is larger than the total current population of Dallas,” he writes. “Go long property by the Medical Center.”
THE FUTURE OF HOUSTON IS ON HILLCROFT NOW Armed with a few stats, Monica Rhor takes a look at Hillcroft Ave, ground zero for the Great Houston Influx: “More than 1 million immigrants — one of every four residents — call Harris County home, and the percentage holds true across 10 surrounding counties. From 2000 to 2010, Houston gained 400,000 foreign-born residents, more than any other U.S. city except New York. Last year, the county received 4,818 refugees from 40 different countries, the most of any county in Texas. The newcomers have done more than shift our demographics. They have created a metropolis where one-third of business owners are foreign-born, where the number of Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus has tripled in the last three decades, where more than 100 languages are spoken by students attending Houston public schools.” Hillcroft, of course is only the area of greatest concentration: “Immigrant communities are dispersed across Harris County — from the southwest side to The Woodlands, from Spring to Pasadena. Over the last two decades, even as the number of foreign-born residents has increased, segregation levels have decreased. Two out of every five people speak a language other than English.” [Houston Chronicle] Map: John D. Harden
Is this Houston real estate’s Wile E. Coyote off-the-cliff-but-hasn’t-realized-he’s-gonna-fall-yet moment? Or is a new era dawning, in which out-of-state investors new to this whole “Houston is booming” thing swoop in to buy up everything and save the day? A fresh serving of home-sales data from real estate agents is available this morning . . . to support either notion. This past December was a record-breaking month for home sales, the Houston Association of Realtors claims in its latest report. Total property sales were up 11 percent over last December, and the current 2.5-months supply of inventory (a comforting term to those who regularly consider a home to be an off-the-shelf item) is scored as “the lowest level of all time.” Total dollar volume of housing sales for this past month was up a whopping 18.1 percent over December of last year. Both average and median sales prices for single-family homes reached “historic highs for a December in Houston.”
Separately, using her own calculations from MLS data, buyers’ agent Judy Thompson has updated her hand-carved regular roundup of appreciation rates and market conditions for the 21 well-known (and mostly Inner Loop) neighborhoods she’s been tracking on her West U Real Estate website for the past decade. (“In some areas I have had to make value judgments about which sales might have been lot value sales that were not listed that way,” she explains.) Of note: Of the tracked neighborhoods, little old Westbury led the increase in average sales price per sq. ft., rising 22 percent in the last year; the combined average for 2014 was an 11 percent uptick.