Housing Center Hopes To Balance Tradition And Gentrification In Third Ward

As new development and investment comes into the neighborhood, community leaders are trying to make sure long-time residents won’t be pushed out.

As efforts continue to foster development and investment in Houston's Third Ward, construction on a new affordable housing center has begun, with city leaders breaking ground on the site Thursday.

Across the street from Emancipation Park, the new Emancipation Center One, an Affordable Housing Operations Center will be home to several city-wide housing organizations.

The center comes as redevelopment in the neighborhood has started to pick up. And with that, some worry that new businesses and residents will push out the people who already live there.

"What's happening is, in many cases, is that it's development, but [development] that many people cannot afford, housing that people cannot afford,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “But people either want to continue to live in their neighborhoods or children who have grown up there, they want to come back and live in their neighborhoods, but they are many times are finding is that it's unaffordable.”

State representative Garnet Coleman helped secure land for affordable housing in the area in 2003. He said talk of gentrification in Third Ward was around back then, but in the 15 years since, adding affordable housing has become more urgent.

"That will mitigate gentrification. We can't stop it but we can make sure people from the community can remain in the community," Coleman said.

Local housing organizations will take up shop in the center. The building should be completed in just over a year.

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