Aug 23, 2022 - News

Turner tries (again) for housing project

Photo illustration of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner with lines radiating from him.
Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

After clashing with the mayor last week, Houston City Council members will vote on a $18.6 million loan for an embattled affordable housing developer tomorrow.

Driving the news: Mayor Sylvester Turner wants to provide the funds to Magnificat Houses, a developer partnering with the New York-based NHP Foundation, to build a supportive housing community in Midtown.

  • The anticipated development at 3300 Caroline St. would create 149 affordable homes for unhoused Houstonians.
  • The funding would be paid back to the city over 40 years.

Yes, but: Several council members objected to the city's involvement in the project, Houston Public Media reports.

  • A Houston Chronicle investigation found the Cleme Manor apartments, which are also managed by the NHP Foundation, were infested with cockroaches and rats while residents dealt with sewer backups and power outages.
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is investigating the conditions at Cleme Manor.

Flashback: Four of the city's 16 council members — at-large council member Letitia Plummer, District D council member Carolyn Evans-Shabazz, District F council member Tiffany Thomas and District K council member Martha Castex-Tatum — objected to the proposal last week and delayed the vote.

  • "If you see how these people are living, honestly they're safer living on the street," Plummer said last week.

The other side: The NHP Foundation has since put new management in place at Cleme Manor.

  • "We are working hard to gain the trust of the other council members by providing them additional information," Eric Price, president of the NHP Foundation, said in a statement to the Chronicle. "We will be meeting with several of them to answer any questions."

Of note: Harris County has approved chipping in $10 million for the Midtown project, but the funding is conditional on specific tenant protections, the Houston Chronicle reports.

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