Innovative housing project helps families on north side


Welcome to Avenue Place -- eventually there will be 95 new homes built here, only a few miles from downtown on the near north side. Plenty of people want these homes, but you have to qualify in order to buy one.

Jason Cisneroz and his wife San Juanita have been in their near north side home for three years, and they say there is a lot to love about it.

"It is close to everything and I am maybe 10 minutes from work," Cisneroz said.

The location is just one of the features of this home. The owners also play a part. The Cisneroz home is one of more than 100 built by Avenue CDC specifically for low- to middle-income families.

Cisneroz said, "I tell everyone to just take advantage of it."

The agency that built the Cisneroz's home has started a new neighborhood of similar houses costing between $160,000 and $180,000. Lizbeth Mejia is the agency's homeownership manager.

She said, "It is actually here to not only serve not only working professionals, but also those families that are looking for something in town."

Mejia says families cannot make more than 120 percent of the area's median income to qualify to own one of these houses. For a family of four, that's $80,000 a year.

"This is an innovative project that is really going to allow to live in and near the city of Houston at an affordable price," Mejia said.

Potential home owners can qualify for up to $45,000 in down payment assistance, but must attend classes on homeownership first.

Mejia explained, "It really is so important in the process not only to understand the process but to find out what questions to ask and who to turn to if I have a question."

Jaime Reyes is taking the classes and says he now knows about things like escrow accounts and property tax implications -- information he says every first time home buyer should know.

"Without knowing what I am doing, I am blind," Reyes said. "It is like I am walking blind and I don't want to do that, I don't think anyone should be having to walk blind."

Homes are all three bedroom, two bath and have yards and garages. If you are interested in finding out more, you can come to the neighborhood on Saturdays from noon to five and get all the information you need to start the buying process.

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