Following a public hearing last week on Nov 15th, Houston City Council will be asked to approve a resolution of no opposition to the proposed $105 million Vista on Gessner project this coming week on Wednesday Nov. 29th. If successful, this entire complex will be rehabbed and will only be available for tenants who must qualify under strict income limitations.
Given tax exempt bond and federal tax credit financing, the project lifespan will be lengthy, perhaps 25 years. Moving forward with this project fortifies the branding of Sharpstown as a low-income community, reinforcing rather than altering the status quo we’ve worked to change for years. It’s critical that you communicate directly with the Mayor’s office and City Council before the vote next week and express your strong opposition.
Despite a very short notice, residents have expressed their opposition in writing through a petition, email, phone calls, and social media posts. A quick survey on NEXTDOOR found 96% opposed. The reality is that while the District J Council Member and Turner Administration think it’s a great idea, the community does not. The Sharpstown Civic Association passed a resolution of opposition (PDF) last week. The community does not want this project.
Call and email City Council and the Mayors Office, indicating that you do not support this proposed project:
Steve Le, District F, Phone: 832.393.3002, E-Mail: email@example.com
Mike Laster, District J, Phone: 832.393.3015, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Knox, At Large 1, Phone: 832.393.3014, E-Mail: email@example.com
David Robinson, At large 2, Phone: 832.393.3013, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Kubosh, At large 3, Phone: 832.393.3005, E-Mail: email@example.com
Amanda Edwards, At large 4, Phone: 832.393.3012, E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jack Christie, At large 5, Phone: 832.393.3017, E-Mail: email@example.com
Sylvester Turner, Mayor, Phone: 832.393.1036, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Councilmember _________,
I am emailing as a follow up to my conversation today over the phone. I am a Sharpstown resident and property owner. I am against the proposed rehab of the 805 apartment complex, Vista on Gessner, with the use of Federal tax credits and Texas Housing Bonds.
I hope input from our community will be considered before casting your vote at City Hall.
Please feel free to contact me for further information.
REASONS FOR OPPOSITION:
Concentrating affordable housing in low income census tracts will likely jeopardize HUD Harvey relief funds desperately needed to rebuild flooded properties and assist Houston residents.
The property was improved in 2009 with market rents only 2% below the proposed tax credit limitations. This project does not create or add one single unit of affordable housing.
Given tax exempt bond and federal tax credit financing, the project lifespan will be lengthy, perhaps 25 years, taking a very large tract off the market for any future redevelopment.
While the physical property may be improved, the long term income restriction on this giant parcel of property will lock in the population density and limited household income of tenants. (District J land use 75% apartments, only 7% single family)
Immigrant, low-income populations are often easy targets of crime such as robberies and burglaries. Concentrating these potential victims in an area already struggling to address public safety is not helpful.
This area has the highest population density inside Harris County, almost 3 times the city average, with excess demand for public safety services such as Police and Fire.
The long-term impact on public schools, such as Sharpstown High School designated as needs improvement, is concerning. A long term population of economically disadvantaged students would contribute to the struggle for improvement.
With the project restricted to tenants with qualifying (low) income only, the ceiling on rental rates could create a race to the bottom. Nearby apartment managers will only be able to compete on price against a publicly-financed property.
A 140 unit affordable housing project at 7500 Bissonnet was completed a few years ago. This project was deemed a catalyst but has had no measurable economic benefit to the community with no additional retail or redevelopment following completion. Crime has remained a serious issue in the area and the demand for increased public safety continues.
Investors considering projects in Southwest Houston would be less optimistic that ongoing street and infrastructure improvements would lead to a larger customer base with greater purchasing power.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT PROPOSED PROJECT
With three additional meetings held last week. the City Council public hearing on Wed Nov. 15th, the Texas Housing Bond Hearing the day before on Tuesday Nov.14th, and the Sharpstown Civic Board meeting on Monday Nov. 13th, we’ve gained valuable insight about this project.
Stay tuned for more about each of these meetings.
CONTACT CITY COUNCIL AND THE MAYOR TODAY!
Previous Issues on this Topic:
October 29th: COMMUNITY ALERT: MORE LOW-INCOME HOUSING ON THE WAY FOR SHARPSTOWN-SOUTHWEST HOUSTON
November 6th: COMMUNITY UPDATE: MORE LOW-INCOME HOUSING ON THE WAY FOR SHARPSTOWN-SOUTHWEST HOUSTON
Southwest Houston Alliance
P.O. Box 270448, Houston, Texas 77277
Phone: 713/ 568-8124
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2017 – Jim Bigham – Houston, Texas.