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HHA Pushes Mixed-Income Housing, Improvements To Senior Housing

Houston ranks first in Texas for having the most severe affordable housing shortage, according to the Houston Housing Authority.

A rendering of the Telephone Road Elderly Apartments renovation.

HHA interim President and CEO Mark Thiele told Bisnow there are only 19 affordable housing units for every 100 households in need.

“This alarming statistic can be partially attributed to the ‘not in my backyard,’ or NIMBY, mindset among many residents who don’t understand the community need or economic benefits that stem from the availability of affordable housing,” Thiele said.

HHA defines affordable housing as a unit or development that is affordable for the area’s median household income. Generally speaking, a household spending more than 30% of its gross monthly income on rent is considered cost-burdened.

The agency is advocating for more workforce housing options and mixed-income communities. These projects can attract controversy and pushback from local residents, usually reflecting concerns over the effects on nearby land values and quality of tenants.

But some developers are finding ways to make mixed-income developments work. One example of this is The Exchange, a 300-unit multifamily community NRP Group is developing in partnership with HHA. The development is within the 43-acre Hardy Yards district on Houston’s north side and broke ground in January.

At least 50% of the units at the complex will be reserved for people earning between 60% and 80% of the area median income, or as much as $42,750. HHA will own the land, which will be exempt from taxes as long as the complex meets specific criteria.

The agency also oversees affordable senior housing. HHA has six communities dedicated to senior housing, with a combined total of 1,290 units. Right now, HHA has plans for two significant revitalization projects, at its 6000 Telephone Road and 2100 Memorial Drive communities.

The 2100 Memorial Drive community suffered damage from flooding events throughout the past several years, but the damage from Hurricane Harvey was irreparable, Thiele said.

HHA intends to demolish and rebuild the community with upgraded amenities, including recreational facilities that residents can reserve, central A/C and washer-dryer hookups in units as well as communal laundry facilities. Plans for the design and construction of the new facility are underway, and Thiele anticipates the reconstructed community opening in 2022.

Tenants who resided at 2100 Memorial during the hurricane will be offered first right of refusal to return to the property.

HHA also has revitalization plans for 6000 Telephone Road. Starting in March, the community will undergo rehabilitation to upgrade and modernize facilities, thanks to a low-income housing tax credit allocation of $19.4M from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. 

The 6000 Telephone Road community will receive extensive upgrades to major building systems, such as water piping and plumbing, electrical systems, and roof and elevator replacement.

Improved amenities will include an activity room with computer stations, a library, new laundry facilities on each floor, an outdoor gazebo and sitting areas, barbecue grills and bike racks.

“Our residents are at the forefront of every decision. With the senior population being among the fastest-growing in the U.S., we will continue to work with our residents and the community to ensure residents have the access, amenities and resources to enhance quality of life,” Thiele said.