Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Applauds the Opening of the Independence Heights Apartments and Commends All Stakeholders for helping Houstonians Attain Affordable Housing

Style Magazine Newswire | 6/1/2018, 11:40 a.m.
Jackson Lee—“Hurricane Harvey is the largest housing disaster to strike the U.S. in our nation’s history. The storm and resulting ...
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, senior Member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Budget, and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, issued the following statement on the grand opening of the Independence Heights Apartments:

“I am very pleased to attend the opening of the Independence Heights Apartments, and commend the Houston Housing Authority’s determination and hard work in seeing this project through to completion. This project will help alleviate the housing burden on some of Houston’s neediest families and undoubtedly help the community recover from the impact and aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

“This building, nor the grand opening we celebrate today, did not occur by itself. Rather, it was the work of tireless effort by many stakeholders. I am pleased that a portion of funds for this project were secured through disaster recovery dollars I fought hard to secure for Houstonians and those affected by Hurricane Harvey. I would also like to applaud Mayor Sylvester Turner for his commitment to the people of Houston and his efforts to ensure that all Houstonians live with the domestic security that comes with adequate and affordable housing, which is in short supply.

“The need for affordable housing has been persistent in the Houston metropolitan area. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Houston’s housing supply is in dire straits: there is only about one affordable rental unit for every five needed. This need was exacerbated last year when one of the costliest and deadliest natural disasters ever to make landfall descended on Houston. Hurricane Harvey is the largest housing disaster to strike the U.S. in our nation’s history. During Hurricane Harvey over 300,000 structures flooded in southeastern Texas, where extreme rainfall hit many areas that are densely-populated. At its peak on September 1, 2017, one-third of Houston, our nation’s fourth largest city, was underwater with 34,575 evacuees in shelters across Texas. The storm and resulting flooding damaged 203,000 homes, of which 12,700 were destroyed.

“That is why, through my position as a Senior Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, I helped secure tens of millions of federal dollars which were used to help construct the Independence Heights Apartments, and in the process help Houston and its citizens tackle its housing need. This was done through Hurricane Harvey Disaster Supplemental funds as well as the Omnibus funding bill which we passed earlier this year. Specifically I am pleased that close to $13 million of federal funds, for which I vigorously advocated, were incorporated in community development block grants for the city of Houston. Furthermore, an even greater amount of federal funds were secured through equity from tax credits. All told, I am proud that the federal funds used for this project constituted over 2/3 of the monies used to construct the Independence Heights Apartments.

“Moreover, beyond funds for construction, I am pleased that the Omnibus spending bill contained tens of billions of dollars on such projects like: $3.365 billion for Community Development Block Grants which is $305 million more than the FY2017 enacted level; $19.6 billion for tenant-based rental assistance; $230 Million for Lead Hazard control and healthy homes, which is more than a 50% increase from the FY2017 enacted level; $678 million for housing for the elderly; $229 million for Housing for the disabled; $375 million for housing opportunities for people with AIDS; and $2.513 billion for homeless assistance grants. This project is built consistent with the Democratic Party’s A Better Deal for Public Housing, initiative, which is a bold and comprehensive solution that would provide over $70 billion to build and upgrade housing over the next five years. In addition to modernization efforts, this plan would also do work necessary to eliminate all major lead and mold hazards, and reduce costs by making developments energy efficient.

“I am incredibly proud of the Independence Heights Apartment. Not only was there a longstanding need for public affordable housing, but it was critical that any public housing facility that filled this need achieve other critical societal ends. In that respect, this mixed-income nature of this multifamily housing development strives to accomplish economic diversity, and in the process foster an environment where people from different walks of life can interact and share life experiences. Moreover, the building at Independence Heights is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities which help its residents live better and healthier lives, including: fitness centers, to help residents maintain proper physical health; controlled gate access, to ensure resident safety; common area Wi-Fi, to help residents connect to the information superhighway and develop and hone the skills to be competitive for jobs of the future; and playgrounds, where the facility’s younger residents can interact and help break down the walls that prevent a greater understanding of one another and our neighbors.”