One of 12 completed units at North Street Apartments was open for viewing Thursday morning during a ribbon-cutting that started in the parking lot.

Numerous members of the community, the Victoria Chamber of Commerce and the organizations that helped to coordinate the project attended as a light drizzle turned into a quick rainfall.

Moving inside the unit for cover, the small crowd discovered an interior with newly painted wallboard and wood-simulate laminate flooring throughout. The original interior of the 850-square-foot, two-bedroom and one-bath unit had been gutted, and a new one stood in its place.

The kitchen has new wooden cabinets in a light oak color, and the countertops are a faux granite laminate. All of the appliances are new. The bathroom cabinets, sink, tub and fixtures are all new. The apartments also have new exteriors, roofs and heating and air conditioning. A new fence is in the process of being installed around the perimeter of the property for privacy, and six raised-bed gardens for vegetables and herbs dot the grassy area at the back of the property. The Community Action Agency provided funding for the garden, and Devereaux Gardens donated the plants and completed the work.

The units will rent for $760 upstairs or $780 downstairs, and tenants will pay for their electricity. Water, trash and sewer costs are included. The tenants will go through a normal application process, including income verification, rental reference calls and criminal background checks, and the units will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The property will accept tenants eligible for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, or Section 8. Those interested in renting a unit can put their names on a waiting list.

A need for affordable housing for low-income families existed before Hurricane Harvey, and damage to apartments during the storm exacerbated the situation. The Victoria County United Way formed a Housing Committee to explore options when the Caterpillar Foundation provided $490,000 to help ease the shortage.

The committee comprised representatives from the Victoria Housing Authority, the city of Victoria development department, Mid-Coast Family Services, the Community Action Agency, Golden Crescent Habitat for Humanity, a real estate lawyer and a banker. Rebuild Texas donated up to $66,000 for the concrete parking lot and other construction needs. Other donors, including Wells Fargo, H-E-B and United Way Worldwide, also provided funding for the project. The renovations totaled $570,000.

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The renovated complex helps fill a gap, said Dolly Stokes, former director for Victoria County United Way. The assistance available through other channels, such as the Homeowner Assistance Program and Homeowner Reimbursement Program, excludes renters.

The nonprofit Victoria Affordable Housing Corporation No. 2, which is an affiliate of the Victoria Housing Authority, owns the property. Mayfair Management Group will manage and maintain the property after the renovations are completed.

Brooke Garcia, new executive director for Victoria County United Way, said she understands the need for rental properties, in general, as a newcomer to the area.

“Until you’re in the market looking for a rental property, you might not understand,” she said. “With unmet needs two years later, having 12 units available for families is a big deal, and I’m excited that the United Way was a part of this.”

Elena Anita Watts covers arts, culture and entertainment for the Victoria Advocate.

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(1) comment

Grace Butler

Harvey was the worst thing for the already limited housing options in Victoria. Friends from bigger cities would be shocked in 2018 when told how much a 2/1 apartment rented for.

Any decent apartments were doing renovations which meant tenants were evicted or forced to live around a construction site. And the less than decent places (cough Autumn Park) let everyone live in squalor. Now we just need another hundred units like this!

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