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$12M in disaster relief money to fund affordable senior housing in Houston’s Third Ward

Mayor Sylvester Turner

HOUSTON – (By Dale King, Realty News Report) – The federal government has allocated $12 million in disaster relief funds to help a historic section of Houston rebuild from the destruction inflicted by Hurricane Harvey two years ago.

The NHP Foundation (NHPF), a national not-for-profit provider of affordable housing, recently announced it has received the cash to “replace housing stock destroyed by that storm,” said Tom McCasland, director of Housing and Community Development for the city of Houston.

The disaster relief funding was administered by Houston’s Department of Housing and Community Development for NHP Foundation’s proposal to construct rental units and ancillary buildings from the ground up, in partnership with Change Happens CDC in Houston’s Third Ward.

The historic section of Houston is located southeast of the downtown and east of the Texas Medical Center.

Plans call for construction of 73 studio and one-bedroom leasable units as well as a theater, retail space, health provider space, recreational amenities and a fitness center on property at Elgin and Tierwester streets.

The land was purchased by Change Happens CDC as part of its decades-long effort to end blight and improve the neighborhood. The Rev. Leslie Smith II, founder and CEO of Change Happens CDC, said those efforts have includes “buying crack houses and tearing them down for the past 30 years.”

Of the proposed development, the Rev. Smith pointed out that “Gentrification is sweeping through the Third Ward, displacing generations of African American families. By acting now in partnership with the NHP Foundation, we are able to provide some of the affordable housing needed to prevent that displacement.”

A recent paper by the Kinder Foundation indicated that 1,400 households in the historic Third Ward making under 80% of the area’s median income are threatened with displacement over the next few years.  NHPF, with partners Change Happens CDC and Trinity East Village CDC, plans to build 700 of those 1,400 units.

“This senior community is the first part of that larger vision,” said Pastor Marilyn White of Trinity East United Methodist Church. “And the first effort of this partnership which realized the potential and the need was to take swift action to make the housing a reality.”

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has designated the historic Third Ward a “Complete Community” or priority revitalization area.

“This project marks another important milestone in Houston’s efforts to create and preserve affordable housing units,” Mayor Turner said. “Through its partnerships with the city, Change Happens CDC and Trinity East United Methodist CDC, NHPF is helping preserve the diversity, character and affordability of the Third Ward, fulfilling our goal to make the historically underserved and under-resourced neighborhood a ‘Complete Community’.”

“We appreciate the mayor’s focus on the historic Third Ward,” said the Rev Smith.  “We also appreciate the support we have received from our state representative, Garnet Coleman, who has helped with tax credits.”

“The federal funds we’ve received from our partners at HUD have made it possible for us to focus much needed resources inside the city,” added Ray Miller, commercial and public facilities assistant director for the city of Houston.  “This goes a long way toward preserving affordability as well as the cultural identity of our historic communities.”

In addition to using disaster relief funds for this project, financing will be provided through 4% and low-income housing tax credits and tax-exempt bonds, said planners.

“It is part of our mission to benefit low-income Houstonians, especially in an increasingly affluent neighborhood, where displacement was a real possibility,” said Neal Drobenare, senior vice president of NHPF. “We are grateful that the city of Houston’s Disaster Relief fund deemed the project worthy.”

This project is part of NHPF’s Affiliate Program, which partners with local organizations, including faith-based entities, to bring development, finance, asset management, resident services, fundraising and other managerial assistance to them.

Headquartered in New York City with offices in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, the NHP Foundation is celebrating its  thirtieth year as a publicly supported 501(c)(3) real estate corporation. The nonprofit is dedicated to preserving and creating sustainable, service-enriched multifamily housing that is affordable to low- and moderate-income families and seniors, and beneficial to their communities.

Launched in 2003, the Change Happens CDC is committed to meeting the dire need of rehabilitating dilapidated homes throughout the neighborhoods of Third Ward Houston.

Aug. 8, @019 Realty News Report Copyright 2019

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