The US Department of Housing and Urban Development found the city’s decision to nix the complex was motivated at least in part by the race, color, or national origin of the likely tenants.
Houston mayor Sylvester Turner and City Council terminated the proposed affordable housing development on Fountainview near Westheimer after fierce opposition from people in the neighborhood.
Turner in a statement says his motivation was the cost of the project, which was estimated at $56 million for 233 units. About ten percent of the units were designated for families below the poverty line.
HUD sent a letter to Turner with the results of their probe and an order for the city to move forward with the Fountainview project, or a low income housing project in a similar area.
Turner says the city is exploring all available options to challenge the findings in the HUD letter.
See the letter from HUD to Turner here:
See Mayor Turner’s response below:
Mayor Sylvester Turner is in strong disagreement with a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development letter of findings regarding the Houston Housing Authority project on Fountain View in the Galleria area.
“I have spent my entire career working to improve the lives of the less fortunate, and that continues now that I am in the mayor’s office,” said Mayor Turner. “We are taking a hard look at the letter, but there should be no misunderstanding about my commitment to providing options for low income families. I do not believe that only wealthy areas can provide what our children need. I have chosen to stay in the neighborhood where I grew up and I will not tell children in similar communities they must live somewhere else. Our underprivileged families should have the right to choose where they want to live, and that choice should include the right to stay in the neighborhoods where they have grown up. I categorically reject any position to the contrary. Somehow this discussion has veered far away from meeting the needs of our underserved populations and it is time to get it back on track.”
Within a matter of weeks, the City, in conjunction with the Houston Housing Authority, is expected to announce a plan to provide vouchers for as many as 350 low income housing units in areas with high performing schools. This is part of the alternatives that have been in the works since the Fountain View project decision.
One of Mayor Turner’s primary concerns about the Fountain View project was the cost. The multi-family, mixed income project of 233 units would have cost $56 million, or about $240,000 per unit. Only 23 of the units, just 10 percent of the entire project, were to have been designated for families living below the poverty line. The rest would have been available for people with incomes considerably higher than the poverty line. There were also concerns about the $6 million developer’s fee associated with the deal.
The City strongly takes issue with the letter from HUD and will utilize all available avenues to challenge their findings.
See Houston Public Media’s Al Ortiz previous pieces on this story: