City introduces New Home Development Program for house buyers with low incomes

HOUSTON — Finding an affordable home in the city of Houston is no easy task.

On Tuesday, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the city's New Home Development Program.

“Our goal is to insure that someone is not paying more than 30% of their gross income on either rent or on their mortgage and other expenses,” Director of Houston Housing and Community Development Tom McCasland said.

Officials broke ground at a location in Acres Homes with one of 19 lots identified in the community.

“More than 100 lots have been identified in the Houston land bank, with more to come," Turner said. "These lots will all have home buyer assistance available for qualified buyers."

“Acres Homes, rich in tradition you can tell this is one of the only places, well about three places in Houston where you can have a horse in the backyard and still have a Bentley right next to it, we do have it in this neighborhood,” comments Councilman Jerry Davis who represents District B.

Additional locations are planned for Gulfton, Second Ward, Near Northside and Third Ward.

Unfortunately, not everyone will qualify. There are income restrictions depending on household size, homebuyers have to go through Housing and Urban Development education, and the buyer can't have too much debt.

“We're going to do an underwriting process where we make sure that your debt to income ratio does not exceed 45% so that the home is affordable for you,” explains Brandi Sullivan with the City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department.

And even though a new report shows the Harvey reactive flood ordinances could worsen inequality in lower-income communities, new structures will be built to expected changes in the flood maps, not the current ones.

“We're building up, we're making sure homes that we do build are out of the flood waters, up on pier and beam, to make sure that when it rains next time like it rained in Harvey these homes do not flood and that we`re protecting the taxpayer investment,” McCasland said.

A combination of HUD dollars, disaster-recovery funds, and Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone money will assist in paying for the program.

But hey, if it turns vacant lots in burdened communities into single family housing, it's a good day for the city of Houston.