The Pepper Tree Manor Apartments was almost built when severe storms forced the owners to abandon it because of funding. It left the property destined for foreclosure. Then NHP Foundation — a national nonprofit that helps preserve and create affordable rental housing — bought the complex and kept it from becoming blight on the northwest Houston neighborhood.
Neal Drobenare is vice president of the foundation. He told residents of Pepper Tree Manor that:
"Just because something's affordable housing doesn't mean that it isn't high-quality housing. We want housing that anyone would want one of their relatives to live in. And that's what we're committed to having here."
Drobenare says Pepper Tree bucks the trend of abandoned property.
"It's actually very unusual. We find apartments that are not very good looking, not in good condition, and take them and transform them — something that looks like Pepper Tree Manor. This was a little different in that we're taking something that looked good — I mean, it needs some work that we're gonna be putting in to freshen it up — but basically this was a good decent place, and we were making sure that it stays a good decent place."
He says they're almost finished adding extras for the seniors:
"Whole new fitness center, recreational amenities like a new gazebo, a pool table — things that the seniors have been asking for — putting in new boilers to make sure that the seniors have hot water when they need it."
Studies show nationally there are almost twice as many renters as there are affordable units. Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee says locally, more than 25,000 people are on the Section 8, or the federally-funded assisted housing waiting list.
"This of course is housing for 55 and older. As we well know, our populations are aging, and these are working people who deserve a quality place to live. I'm very glad that Neighborhood Stabilization dollars were able to provide a $3 million plus grant of federal dollars to ensure that they live in a place that has amenities that make for a comfortable living."
NHP Foundation says the 250 unit complex is almost fully occupied, but is eyeing another property in the 5th Ward to turn into another housing complex for seniors.