A recent story on the front page of the New York Times featured Houston, Texas speaks about how cities decide where affordable housing SHOULD go. It discussed the role of government subsidized housing, neighborhood groups, and politicians have in maintaining our country’s tragic racial and social divides.
For h+uo architects this topic hits close to home. Partner, Tom Hatch, has worked closely with John Henneberger and Karen Paup since the late 70’s. The founders of Texas Low Income Housing Information Service (TLIHIS), John and Karen have helped organize most inner-city neighborhoods in Austin and the Valley in the interest of helping local groups find their political strength to create housing for the working poor and those less fortunate.
With commonalities to projects Karen, John, and Tom have encountered in the Valley, Houston is facing a great debate on how low income housing effects surrounding areas and if the outcome is as negative as predicted. In h+uo’s experience these well managed housing communities have no negative effect, including not lowering property values. Houston has a bad habit of supporting affordable housing in very problematic and sometimes poisonous parts of the city, where no one else wants to live.
Two of our more recent known low income projects in Austin are Lakeline Station and Homestead Oaks. Working closely with Foundation Communities, these two projects exemplify what can be done in great neighborhoods where good schools, public transportation, and work opportunities exist for all. In addition to the family based communities, Foundation Communities includes Learning Centers that provide the best after school activities that nourish the minds and the health of all area children while helping parents whose work schedules do not coincide with school hours.
So, while neighborhood groups in many cities such as Houston are fighting against the Low Income Housing movement, h+uo continues to bat for its growth. Creating needed quality affordable housing in all parts of cities is where our hearts are.