Inside the loop, affordable housing giving way to high-dollar development

Houston Chronicle, December 27, 2015                         


. . . The average Houstonian now spends 46 percent of his or her salary for housing and transportation, putting the city just above the 45 percent threshold for affordability set by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

As housing costs rise, households have less to spend on other necessities, said Harvard's Spader. His research shows that households that pay more than 50 percent on housing spend 38 percent less on food, 55 percent less on health care and are unable to save for retirement.

The city's economy also suffers as low-income residents move from central Houston.

"Employees have a harder time getting to work, a harder time doing good work," said Amanda Timm, executive director of Local Initiatives Support Corp. Greater Houston, a nonprofit group that supports neighborhood revitalization. "There's an economic value to keeping workers close to the core."

Gentrification tends to isolate the poor from the affluent and disrupt ties and relationships that can be critical for upward mobility.

In the Near Northside, Avenue CDC is trying to prevent that through Avenue Place, which offers affordable housing. Many of those moving to the development are working families who could no longer afford to live in the Heights but wanted to stay close to downtown, said executive director Lawler.

The group's goal is to make sure 20 percent of housing there remains affordable.

Without such proactive efforts, Lawler says, "we will end up with marginalized communities without resources, without access to opportunity."


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