HOUSTON — (By Dale King) – After selling its downtown property to Astros owner Jim Crane, New Hope Housing is preparing for an exodus to a new facility on the eastern edge of downtown Houston.
Building the new 175-unit complex is just another step in the organization’s relentless drive to fulfill its mission.
Nearly a quarter-century ago, New Hope Housing defined a major problem in Houston – homelessness, near homelessness and many ancillary complications – and began to meet them head-on.
“Since we started in 1993, we have built seven SRO (single room occupancy) developments containing 955 units,” said Joy Horak-Brown, founding president and CEO of New Hope Housing.
“Our core purpose has been to provide life-stabilizing, affordable, permanent housing with support services for people who live on very limited incomes,” she said. “Our vision is to be an enduring institution serving Houston’s most vulnerable citizens.”
The organization is about to embark on a new venture that will include a structure with a somewhat different configuration.
New Hope Housing has broken ground for its new Harrisburg Boulevard development that will include 175 SRO studio efficiencies for individuals, about 4,000 square feet of retail space for a small, local business and 7,000 square feet of office space. Horak-Brown said New Hope Housing will relocate its current headquarters to the new multi-use development that will be LEED certified in environmental efficiency.
Located near the corner of Harrisburg Boulevard and Sampson Street in Houston’s historic Second Ward, the building will be situated along the METRO Rail Green Line, which compliments the property’s mixed-use feature. “The location near transit is designed to persuade the residents to walk and have easy access to services and amenities, promoting a healthier lifestyle,” said Horak-Brown.
She noted that all New Hope housing developments are situated close to transit lines.
The Harrisburg project will replace the Hamilton SRO, the first New Hope property opened in 1995 in the Central Business District, immediately adjacent to Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros baseball team. The Hamilton and the Harrisburg properties are less than a mile apart.
Jim Crane, owner of the Astros, plays a significant role in this plan. Horak-Brown said he purchased the Hamilton and has kept it operating as a dwelling until the Harrisburg building replaces it. “Once Harrisburg is complete in the fall of 2017 (likely November),” said the housing group’s president, “New Hope will relocate its corporate headquarters to its fourth floor, and the eligible residents of Hamilton will move into Harrisburg or another New Hope property. Then, Hamilton will permanently close.”
She said Crane is expected to raze the Hamilton and use the property as part of the Astros ballpark complex, possibly a parking lot. The property, now owned by Crane, is located at 320 Hamilton at Congress Avenue, just west of U.S. Highway 59.
“Homelessness, substandard housing and the lack of affordable options are all part of a national crisis,” said Horak-Brown. “Every day, more people live on the edge and solutions are often elusive.”
“Houston has experienced some of the highest housing cost increases in the nation. Since 2011, there have been a 36% increase in the cost to rent an apartment and a 33% jump in the price of a single family home.”
“High housing costs leave low-income persons with little money for other important expenses like healthcare, food and education,” said Horak-Brown. “National studies report that one in four renters paid more than 50% of their income on housing costs.”
New Hope Housing got its seed money from a local church.
The plight of the homeless and near homeless was made painfully clear in 1993 to the people of Christ Church Cathedral-Episcopal. They didn’t need a study to point out the problem. “All they had to do was walk from the cathedral to the parking lot,” said Horak-Brown. “It was obvious that there were people without a decent place to live or who had no home at all. And so the parishioners challenged the local community to do something about it.”
Parishioners added a proviso to the church’s fundraising efforts. For every $1 raised to restore the historic cathedral, $1 was collected to invest in community solutions. This resulted in $1.25 million being earmarked to create New Hope Housing and to build the first 40 units of single room occupancy rental housing in Houston.
“From the inception, our focus has been on adults living alone on very modest incomes, and we have grown into Texas’ leading provider of SRO housing,” the founding president said.
“In 2013, the Board of Directors expanded the scope of our services to assist homeless and at-risk families. Our first family supportive housing broke ground in October 2016 and is located in central southwest Houston off Highway 288 and Reed Road.”
Today, New Hope Housing is an award-winning organization that is also built on solid financial ground. “Our ability to build attractive, smart housing while remaining debt-free is what keeps rents affordable. Strong finances ensure our ability to be a consistent and durable provider of housing and services.”
Since 1993, New Hope Housing has raised more than $130 million, which includes: tax credits, 38%; city of Houston, 30% and foundations, 19%, among other donors.
New Hope assists low-income people as well as those with physical or mental difficulties. The median age of those who seek services is 50 to 65.
“We connect people with a range of supportive services that provide the tools to create a stable life filled with hope.” These include GED and literacy classes, Alcoholic Anonymous sessions and meetings for people with PTSD. Residents can get health checks, play bingo and receive assistance with health problems and job searches.
March 18, 2017 Realty News Report Copyright 2017