Summit focuses on long-term affordable housing solutions

Laura Garcia By Laura Garcia

Sept. 28, 2017 at 10:06 p.m.
Updated Sept. 29, 2017 at 6 a.m.

A newly formed nonprofit called Promise Pointe is working to provide permanent affordable housing and a supportive community for the chronically homeless in the Crossroads.

The initiative was introduced at a discussion about housing needs hosted by the Victoria Alliance on Thursday.

Promise Pointe is starting to raise funds, looking for land and seeking two RVs to get started, said Victoria attorney Jim Cole, president of Promise Pointe.

The community is based on a successful one built on the outskirts of Austin called Community First! Village.

Homeless advocate Kim Pickens said the goal is to create a dignified residential community for chronically homeless individuals.

"These are people that have been told they'd never be housed," she said. "Essentially, they can live there for the rest of their lives."

The community in Austin partners with businesses and offers an on-site medical clinic, place of worship, outdoor movie theater and small grocery store and is near a bus stop.

The housing summit also focused on a way to solve the affordable housing shortage for families.

Those who attended learned about how Prospera Housing Community Services successfully built 50 affordable multifamily communities across the state since 1993.

Prospera has two properties in Victoria - Houston House and Fox Run - and offers more to residents than a typical apartment complex.

Jacque Woodring, director of asset development, explained how they choose a site and applied for competitive state tax credit programs.

Prospera's model includes a resident services manager at each property to plan events such as health and job fairs and connects residents with resources in the community.

Woodring said the development partnership is interested in finding a site in Victoria to build another permanent low-income housing property for the state's next application cycle.

But some of the challenges are the long process, which includes getting city officials to support the project, identifying a site and a patient seller and finding soft money or buy-in from community partners.

Camille Easton, president of the Victoria Alliance, moderated the housing summit and said the alliance plans to form a focused group to support the effort for more long-term affordable housing development.

Alliance member and Victoria attorney Lee Keeling said the group hopes to pave the way for responsible developers such as Prospera to build locally.

Part of that effort means encouraging elected officials and city leaders to take the lead on these initiatives.

Keeling's area of practice includes advising businesses in acquisitions, real estate and financing.

"We could be much more welcoming and open to affordable housing in Victoria," Keeling said.


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