$18M given to fund affordable housing project in Houston despite councilmembers' pushback

ByDerrick Lewis via KTRK logo
Thursday, August 25, 2022
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A new $18 million plan to house the homeless is not sitting well with some city council members.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston's city council has approved giving $18 million to an affordable housing company that will build housing for the homeless.

While some council members did not want NHP Foundation to build the unit, they said they were pushed into a corner, and without approval, the city could have lost the funding altogether.

The money came from the state's General Land Office, and the city council said they weren't given much time to discuss this, given the state's deadline.

"We can't always get pushed against the corner," said Councilwoman Letitia Plummer, who voted against the project, saying she does not want NHP involved. "NHP has just been a bad actor in general."

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NHP owns Cleme Manor Apartments, and residents said they have dealt with several issues, including rodents and sewer problems.

The majority of the city council approved the project.

"We were put in a quandary," said vice mayor pro tem Martha Castex-Tatum, who voted in favor of the project. "I think what you saw (Wednesday) was council members who were supportive of housing for the homeless and council members who were against bad owners of apartment complexes."

NHP sent ABC13 a statement saying, "Houston is an important city to our organization and we look forward to being an even bigger part of this community to provide much-needed permanent supportive housing. We look forward to working with the city and county to ensure the safest highest quality housing is constructed."

The organization also thanked the mayor and city council for moving forward with them. However, city council made it clear, that Houstonians deserve more.

"We sent a strong message not only to NHP but other developers in the city of Houston that it is imperative that they maintain their properties and make sure the residents in those properties are living in habitable and good conditions," said Castex-Tatum.

Developers who don't maintain their properties will face consequences.

"They are required to provide quality housing for their residents," Castex-Tatum added. "If that does not happen, the city of Houston has the ability to revoke their certificates of occupancies."

According to the Coalition for the Homeless, in 2022, the Houston region can expect to see more than 3,200 people experiencing homelessness at any given moment.

Plummer said the city shouldn't be forced to make decisions this way.

"We need more notice," she said. "We need to be more a part of the conversation early on and not get blindsided on council and have to make these rush decisions."