Angry and concerned residents of the Lakeshore community and surrounding neighborhoods convened at Atascocita High School on March 23 to ask questions about a proposed affordable housing community called, ‘The View.’
Statements were made by members of the Harris County Housing Authority and several engineers at a meeting held in November 2021 as well as posts on the website regarding the voucher program ( https://housingforhouston.com)
The planned community is to be located on Lake Houston Parkway next to the Lakeshore development with limited access in and out and no access to public transportation or security. The mixed, multipurpose community is set to feature homes appraised between $250K and $350K with homeowners that would not be mandated to contribute to property taxes. 90% of the homeowners are projected to have some sort of income, while 40% are forecasted to hold jobs or some means of employment.
Each home is expected to house 2.6 inhabitants per house or unit in a single-family or multi-family setting. The total development is planned to include elderly housing, townhomes, family/cluster places and commercial spaces.
There was a public hearing on the prime 90-acre parcel of lakefront property in November. Robert Sitton, chair of the school board's building and planning committee, attended the public hearing and stated that the Humble district had an interest in purchasing the property. Sitton received a follow-up phone call the next day about the district making an offer. Humble ISD sent a letter of intent to buy the property. The offer was denied without a counteroffer from the Harris County Housing Authority (HCHA).
This topic was discussed at the Humble school board meeting on March 8 about how if purchased, the property would help manage student enrollment growth. The property would be used by the district for Middle School No. 11 while maintaining the flexibility and availability to utilize the adjacent 150-acre parcel for school buildings needed in the future, such as a future high school, early childhood center or other facilities.
Humble ISD then issued a 10% increase in a second offer. The second offer to date has not received any correspondence from the HCHA - even though it was communicated that even the initial offer met all previously-stated criteria.
Humble ISD had 2,700 new student enrollments this past year – a greater net growth than any other district in the greater Houston area. A master-planned, affordable housing venture of this caliber has not been created or designed anywhere in Houston to date.
Sitton spoke to the group. “As a representative of the Humble ISD, when we placed the original offer on this property, we made a decision that made sense for the times. In the past year, Humble ISD has taken on these new enrollments at a time when our campuses are already 10-20% beyond capacity. When you walked into the meeting this evening, you might have noticed several portable classrooms on a relatively new campus. I urge you to think about where these students would go to school since land is now scarce within the district.”
J.K. Washington, a resident of Waters Edge and a patrol sergeant for the Montgomery County Precinct 3 Constable Office, spoke and gave a presentation that posed several still unanswered questions.
Several of the questions posed by Washington center around the limited or lack of security documented for this community and funded by surrounding developments, lack of mass transit transportation, price per square footage of each unit, limited emergency access in and out, a plan for the wetland and natural habitats, home for the existing bald eagles, plans for a boutique-style hotel, amphitheater and more.
Washington added, “I want to understand how a family of four with far less than $65,000 annual income will qualify for and be able to afford not only the mortgage on one of these 115 units of this stature, but also the utilities, amenity and vehicular support that will be needed for a lakefront community – even with assistance. Many existing families and homeowners have worked hard their entire life with an even greater income and can still not afford a lakefront property. Additionally, I would like to be informed how the addition of this new development will contribute value to the area without adding to the already-growing crime statistics.”
Washington pointed out from a law enforcement perspective that in 2021, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office reported 1,540 felony arrests in the past year in the immediate Lake Houston area. Additionally, there were 217 crimes reported in the discussed zip code – 36 of which were considered simple assaults and 23 cases attributed to burglary of vehicles.
Many community members signed up in advance to ask questions of the HCHA representatives, such as Waters Edge resident Peter Strauss who said, “Even as most of this meeting has progressed, I am still unclear about the restrictions of retail use, how you will work to NOT drive down property values, and finally, I think the idea of another lower-level, non-boutique hotel in my backyard is appalling.”
Amanda Salinas of Lakeshore negatively expressed, “Four years ago, it took minutes to drive to the beltway with few stoplights, but now it takes sometimes over 20 minutes. The addition of hundreds more drivers from homes, apartments, commercial business, and more - this will only make this short distance unbearable.”
In the end, many angrier and upset community residents rose to speak up in opposition to this new development. Community members, whether in attendance or not, are urged to contact all the following resources to state facts, ask questions, or voice concerns: