In a press conference earlier today, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced that the Near Northside community has been designated as one of three priority areas for the Complete Communities initiative, which focuses on ensuring Houston communities have the quality of life elements needed for residents
to live and prosper in their own neighborhoods. These elements include adequate access to healthcare, educational resources, healthy groceries, parks and green space, quality public transit and economic opportunities.
The Complete Communities initiative seeks to address these elements in Houston communities where they are lacking and includes provisions for sufficient quality, affordable housing – something that has become a growing concern across the City of Houston, including in the Near Northside community.
According to Mary Lawler, executive director of Avenue Community Development Corporation, a Houston non-profit organization dedicated to building affordable homes and strengthening communities, the announcement has come at the right time for the Near Northside community.
“We are delighted that the Near Northside has been recognized as part of the mayor’s complete communities program,” Lawler said. “Avenue has been working with this community for many years, supporting efforts by Near Northside residents to revitalize an area rich with historic and cultural identity while preserving the neighborhood’s unique character and affordability. This designation from the city will help elevate the community to a new level, especially with regard to affordable housing, which is becoming more of a challenge for Houstonians looking to reside within the inner-loop.”
Over the last eight years, Avenue has served as a convener to help Near Northside residents identify and address the needs of their community. Among these are safety, escalating housing prices and a lack of access to key amenities and services, including access to parks, green space and quality healthcare. As part of this work, the residents have established a Quality of Life Agreement (QLA) that outlines the ways that residents can work together to create a vibrant, connected, safe, and healthy community.
The city’s expansion of the METRORail to better serve the greater Northside area, all the way up to the Northline has been a signature improvement. This has connected Northside residents to other parts of the city, including Downtown and Texas Medical Center.
According to Lawler, the renewed focus on mobility has been game-changing for Near Northside residents. At the same time, Lawler notes, improved access to public transit can also foster gentrification, which can improve neighborhoods but also compromise affordability.
In the last few years, Avenue has constructed several affordable housing communities in the Near Northside, including Fulton Gardens, a senior housing development that is situated along the METRORail; Avenue Place, a 95-unit single family development; and Avenue Terrace, a 144-unit multifamily complex. These developments offer Houstonians affordable housing prices, as well as access to a variety of amenities, including after school tutoring and community development programs.
“It is important to find housing solutions that allow residents to live independently, without the stresses and unsustainability that comes with being overly cost-burdened,” Lawler said. “We look forward to working with the city and this community to find more ways to provide access to housing that enables Houstonians to maintain a good quality of life, without home prices that are out of reach or exceed their means.”
In the last 25 years, Avenue has developed 173 single-family homes, 747 affordable rental units and 140,000 square feet of commercial space within the inner-loop, creating accessible, quality affordable city living for Houston residents.
“Large numbers of renters and a scarce supply of quality affordable housing is driving up rents, while wages have remained stuck in place. Critical job centers are located in the city - it is important to implement solutions that allow hardworking residents to work and thrive without the unsustainability and undue pressure on children that comes with not being able to make rent payments, and having to move frequently,” Lawler said. We look forward to
continuing to work on thriving communities that promote economic growth, access to healthcare and parks and greenspace, and quality educational opportunities.”
For more information about Avenue’s community preservation efforts visit, http://14w.cc0.myftpupload.com/.
Avenue’s mission is to build affordable homes and strengthen communities. The organization enhances the quality of life of working families and works to promote Houston’s future as a world-class city of healthy, vibrant and economically diverse neighborhoods. Avenue develops homes for purchase and rent as well as provides homebuyer education and counseling to help working families buy and maintain their own homes. They promote economic development and offer supportive services such as computer labs, after-school programs, and nutrition, fitness, and financial literacy classes that enrich the lives of the individuals and families they serve. Avenue is a member of the nationwide NeighborWorks® Network of more than 245 community development organizations working in nearly 4,358 urban, suburban and rural communities across America. Connect with Avenue on Facebook: http://bit.ly/FBAvenueCDC and Twitter: https://twitter.com/AvenueCDC.