Harris County Commissioners Court met Feb. 22 to discuss four affordable housing projects planned for locations in the city of Houston and throughout Harris County, among other topics. (Screenshot via Facebook Live)
Harris County Commissioners Court chose to support four affordable housing projects planned in different parts of the county Feb. 22, although only two projects were approved unanimously.
While the Cole Creek Estates project and the Cypress Senior Homes project were approved unanimously, resolutions supporting the Fairbanks Crossing project and the Vecinos Apartments project were approved in a 3-2 vote with Precincts 3 and 4 Commissioners Tom Ramsey and Jack Cagle dissenting.
“There is a significant need for affordable rental housing, and then I’ll just capstone that with the increase of rental prices at this particular time, that we don’t see the market correcting in any near future [as a] net result of the economic impacts of the pandemic,” Community Services Director Adrienne Holloway said.
The Cole Creek Estates project is planned to be built at 6850 Gessner Road, Houston, in Precinct 1, while the Cypress Senior Homes project is planned for 2823 Barker Cypress Road, Houston, in Precinct 4. Additionally, the Vecinos Apartments project is planned for the intersection of Spring Cypress and Lexington roads in Precinct 3, while the Fairbanks Crossing project is planed for the intersection of Warren and Fairbanks North Houston roads in Precinct 1.
Before voting on the projects, Ramsey expressed his concern that some of the developers had not reached out to him about the project beforehand.
“I’m not against affordable housing … [what] I am against is someone that hasn’t done their homework, that hasn’t engaged the community,” Ramsey said. “I don’t know of anybody in Old Town Spring that’s been engaged at this point.”
Before commissioners voted, multiple residents spoke against the Fairbanks Crossing project, including Jill Hawley Safi, a retired teacher and Harris County resident who said the nearby schools would not be able to properly support additional students being added by the housing project.
“[The children who would live in the apartments] are already economically isolated, racially isolated,” Safi said. “Analysis shows that when you do this, you further these problems. And kids—our kids in our schools and future residents, kids that are coming in—are going into failing schools.”
Harris County resident Carol Money also spoke against the Fairbanks Crossing project, talking about her experience living in a high-crime area of Houston.
“I know firsthand the effects that low-income developments and all of the infrastructure that supports it can have on a neighborhood,” Money said. “I’ve lived there, and I’ve moved away from it.”
Construction has yet to begin on any of the projects, according to CSD Planning Manager Walter Peacock. All of the projects are considered 9% Housing Tax Credit affordable housing projects under the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, according to the Commissioners Court Feb. 22 meeting agenda.