The Hospitality Apartments at 7300 Bertner just north of OST are â€œnot posh. But they’re perfectly nice,” explains Ann Hightower, whose husband Joe founded the organization that runs them 42 years ago. “Totally functional, with linens, dishes, a stove and oven, a microwave, TVs and access to free laundry.”
Where’s the swimming pool? There isn’t one, but that’s not usually too much of a concern of the people staying there. All the residents of the 42-unit complex are out-of-towners undergoing treatment at the nearby Texas Medical Center.
Joe [Hightower] estimated the apartments have been filled â€œ99-plus percent of the timeâ€ over the years.
â€œYou could probably have four projects this big in Houston and just barely meet the demand,â€ Ann said after the organization’s annual meeting on Super Bowl Sunday. â€œAnd then you would uncover another layer of need.â€
Residents stay anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months — for free.
The nonprofit has never applied for or received money from any government agency. The organization has relied on personal fundraising efforts by the Hightowers and friends and the generosity of Houston congregations, private foundations and hundreds of individual contributors. It has no debt, pays no salaries and operates each apartment for less than $10 a day.
At the annual meeting of trustees this week, more than 75 volunteers detailed efforts to address a punch list of construction issues, landscape and extend the gardens around the complex and install a robust Wi-Fi system for residents with the assistance of personnel from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The equipment and installation are being supplied by MCA Communication and Cisco at no charge to the foundation.
The Hospitality Apartments were established in 1968, but the facilities are more recent:
The new building completed three years ago replaced four two-story buildings cobbled together by Hightower and his team over the decades. M.D. Anderson bought the former apartments five years ago to facilitate a planned expansion; Bertner Avenue now runs right through where they once stood, and the new apartments, 50 yards to the west, stand on land the hospital traded for the original plots.
Photos: Hospitality House (top 2 by Paul Hester]