Texas lawmakers hear possible solutions to affordable housing crisis in Houston area

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Friday, July 15, 2022
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The Texas House of Representatives Committee on Urban Affairs met to hear from people who are working to solve the affordable housing crisis.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As we are experiencing record-high inflation, housing is becoming less and less affordable too.

Inside the Houston city council chambers, the Texas House of Representatives Committee on Urban Affairs met on Thursday to hear from people who are working to solve the housing crisis across the state.

Zondora Curtis, a working mother of two, said she knows the affordable housing struggle all too well. She said she started trying to buy a house in the Houston area in 2019.

"Being a homeowner, for me, is one of my life goals. When I was looking for homes, the most affordable one in the area I was looking in was probably $160,000 to $180,000, so yeah, it was very hard," Curtis explained.

SEE ALSO: Husband and wife team behind new affordable development Grand Park Square in SE Houston

A Kinder Institute for Urban Research study released in June says local housing prices have skyrocketed, with the median sales price in Houston nearing $350,000 in 2021. Their study shows the median sales price increased by 10% in Houston and 16% across Harris County.

Angela Birch Cox, the strategic project director for Houston Habitat for Humanity said the lack of affordable housing impacts hundreds of thousands of people in our area, as for many, housing takes such a big chunk of their monthly net income.

"There's a huge number of folks in Houston that pay more than 50% (of their net income for housing) and so you can imagine what that leaves for all of the other things you need. The problem is really dire," Cox explained.

During the interim charge hearing, the Texas House of Representatives Committee on Urban Affairs listened and asked questions to people who are trying to solve this problem.

"Unless we find a way to build more housing and make it so that it's faster, more efficient, obviously make sure that it's safe, the situation is only going to get exponentially worse," Nicole Nosek, the chair for Texans for Reasonable Solutions, said.

Cox is determined to be part of the solution, as she says housing is so fundamental to people's well-being.

"These are working, gainfully employed, have jobs, have roots in the community and are priced out of home-ownership and it impacts them, not just their generation, but the generations to come," Cox said.

SEE ALSO: Less than half of Houston-area residents can afford a median-priced home

One of the possible solutions that Habitat for Humanity presented to the committee is the idea of a revolving fund. Habitat for Humanity Houston is working on a large, mixed-income housing development called Robins Landing on the northeast side, and are hoping to have some sort of bill created to help fund more communities like that.

For Curtis, the long process is almost over. She is set to move into her home with her sons this fall through the Habitat for Humanity program.

"I get butterflies thinking about it. I don't have the words," Curtis said.

It's an achievement she is proud of and is hoping doesn't come as tough for her sons.

"My investment will be there for my kids. If they decide to sell the property and purchase another home somewhere else, this gives me hope for them and their families," said Curtis.

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