After WWII, when the nation set about providing better housing, Houston benefited from the lack of restrictive planning practices that made housing affordability the envy of other major cities. Yet, many Houston residents still struggle to make the transition from being a renter to a homeowner.
Since 1987, Houston Habitat for Humanity has been able to turn the dream of home ownership into reality. Algenita Scott Davis is executive director. She says the qualification process is stringent, requiring applicants to clearly display a need for housing, an ability to pay, and a willingness to be a part of that process.
"The other thing that we do, is we have homeowners associations. So not only are they homeowners, but they are running nonprofit organizations with budgets that have a bank account and a franchise tax form to fill out, so then they become leaders of their community. And that's one of the important things, that they understand the significance of collaboration with other homeowners."
With the help of sponsors and volunteers, Houston Habitat has built more than 860 affordable homes for purchase by hard working, low income residents. But the need for affordable housing will never go away, and that's why Houston Habitat's Bike to Build Cycling event is being held later this month in downtown Houston. It's being chaired by State Senator and noted cycle enthusiast Rodney Ellis. He says the event aims to accomplish two things:
"One, to focus more attention on the fact that there are so many people in Houston who don't have access to housing. So this is a way for those of us who need to lose a little weight — that's the second subject — and get in shape, we can do something good, and also have fun while we're doing it. So there will be as many people as we can get, to show up at Discovery Green on September 24th, for a 10 mile bike ride or a 25 mile bike ride, through the heart of downtown Houston, in historic Houston Heights."
Co-Chair and Houston State Representative Carol Alvarado says the event sheds light on the need for more affordable housing.
"Holding something like this pumps money into Habitat for Humanity. So they're able to either renovate or build new housing. They fill a gap, and their model is very unique. The people that are gonna live there, have to put about 300-hours of sweat equity into it. So these are people that not only are they buying their home, but they're helping to build that home."
She says Bike to Build is a chance for everyone to get together and directly impact the lives of hard working Houston families. More information can be found at www.HoustonHabitat.org/Bike.