With shovels in hand, representatives of New Hope housing smiled for the cameras as they broke ground on their latest multi-unit apartment complex. Listen to the amenities:
"There will be community living room, dining room kitchen, a fully equipped business center. Several lovely courtyards, one featuring flowers another dedicated toÎ¾barbecue grilling and eating outdoors and a third large garden are with lovely fountain a horse shoe playing area."
That's Joy Horak Brown, Executive Director of New HopeÎ¾Housing Inc.. While those amenities sound attractive, there are many other apartments in Houston just as nice or better. But what really makes the new Sakowitz Apartment complex unique is that it's low income housing. A term many home owners don't like to hear.
"There are all sorts of images that come to peoples minds when someone says a low income housing project is being put smack dab in the middle of your neighborhood."
That's Mack Fowler, chairman of the board for New Hope. He says whenever they build low income housing complexes — and they've already built four others —Î¾his biggest problem is convincing nearby residents that the facility won't hurt the look and feel of the neighborhood.
"We believe that if you go by one of our properties and you say that's low income housing, then we've failed. We want to build low income properties that Houstonians would be proud to live in."
Fowler says his facilities are clean and safe, the kind of place he'd let his relatives move into. Only they can't. All of the tenants will be low income...some will even be homeless.
Thau Costis runs a downtown agency that helps the homeless. She says without constant help and counseling, some of the people who move into the apartments could find themselves back on the streets.
"Many of them are independent. They have no friends, no family to depend upon and so when they are placed in an apartment they have to try and create a new community for themselves and so our case managers can help them facilitate that."
She's hoping to get government money to work with the tenants at the new complex. Developers hope to have the units ready to move in within the next two years. Bill Stamps. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.