HOUSTON — (By Dale King, Realty News Report) — New Hope Housing’s latest entry in Houston’s single room occupancy (SRO) apartment community is a sight to behold.
Inside are bright, white-walled units with modern fixtures, comfortable furnishings and fine accouterments. Specialty areas include a library, community room and social service location. An elegant canopy surrounds the bright courtyard. Out front, METRORail Green Line trains zip along shiny tracks near the Coffee Plant/Second Ward station.
New Hope Housing’s 175-unit SRO in Houston’s historic East End, at 3315 Harrisburg Blvd., opened its doors in February, and is already 65% occupied, said Joy Horak-Brown, founding president and CEO of the organization.
The site is extraordinary not just because of its location, but because it is the first of New Hope’s residential centers to contain retail and commercial office space.
Another extraordinary element is New Hope Housing’s part in modern history. Late last summer, in the midst of constructing the Harrisburg, the city of Houston called on NHH to lend a hand when destructive Hurricane Harvey slammed the city with wind and immense amounts of water, displacing thousands.
“We at New Hope Housing were prepared and fortunate,” said Horak-Brown. “All our buildings were safe and dry. But the city called on us to see if we could help in other areas, and we said ‘yes.’ We formed Harvey Response Management.”
The city resurrected a shut-down former homeless shelter and opened it to people left homeless by Harvey’s wrath. New Hope’s staff diverted some of its time to fix up and paint the old place, and then managed the facility for the duration.
The last 35 people remaining in the old homeless shelter moved into the Harrisburg in February, and the old building was returned to the city.
The Harrisburg apartment building includes 4,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor and 7,000 square feet of office space on the fourth floor, which will soon house New Hope’s relocated corporate headquarters.
“We have been highly focused on the residential portion of our work, especially during Harvey,” said New Hope media person Nicole Cassier-Mason. As a result, the move of the corporate office has been put off until June.
She said New Hope is currently working with CBRE to find a tenant or tenants for the retail space.
Founded in 1993, New Hope Housing marked the opening of its newest apartment community — an important milestone which took place during the organization’s 25th anniversary year – with a ceremony in the expansive courtyard area at the 175-unit complex.
“New Hope Housing’s Harrisburg community is an important step toward meeting our commitment to increasing housing opportunities for Houstonians, especially after Hurricane Harvey,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said during the opening celebration. “As a mixed-use development, it provides direct access to potential employment and other services. It is the type of development we need to further the vision of Houston as one city, where there is hope, inspiration and opportunity for all.”
The Harrisburg project replaced the Hamilton SRO, New Hope’s first property which opened in 1995 in the central business district, immediately adjacent to Minute Maid Park, which is now the home field of the 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros baseball team.
A few years ago, New Hope Housing was in the midst of planning to renovate Hamilton when Astros owner Jim Crane called and said he had a better plan. He would purchase the Hamilton property and let NHH keep operating it while the Harrisburg facility was built. Crane also made a private contribution toward construction of the Harrisburg property. After the facility was complete, Crane demolished the old facility on Hamilton and turned it into a parking lot, which is useful when the Astros play one of their 80 or so regular season games – plus other dates for the playoffs, and hopefully, another World Series.
Most of the residents who lived in the Hamilton facility in downtown moved into the new facility in the East End, which is considered very “green.” New Hope Housing at Harrisburg is the organization’s fourth structure that is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified in environmental efficiency by the U.S. Green Buildings Council.
Harrisburg was designed by GSMA, Inc. Each apartment is a fully furnished efficiency and includes a private bath and small kitchenette with a microwave and refrigerator. Residents have access to communal spaces, such as a kitchen, business center, library and theatre/dining room.
All NHH properties provide critical on-site support and recovery services to help residents gain stability and remain healthy. Services include case management, access to primary and mental health care, legal assistance, health and nutritional counseling, financial education and life-skills training, and in some instances, rental support.
Since its inception, NHH has helped 9,500 men and women live in high-quality, affordable housing with access to life-enhancing support services. Occupants of New Hope’s properties include the working poor, formerly homeless, veterans, the elderly, the chronically ill, people with cognitive and physical impairments and those overcoming substance abuse.
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,” said Horak-Brown. 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.