Discussing affordability, inventory, and access to Housing in Houston
The month of October is nationally recognized as Housing America Month! As part of our commitment to increasing homeownership awareness, the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR) hosted a Housing Symposium to address issues impacting housing in the Houston area, including affordability and inventory. HAR is unique in that we are not only a trade association, but we also run one of the most visited real estate websites in the country. For that reason, HAR has had a bird’s-eye view of the steep increase in home values and drastic decrease in housing inventory across the state of Texas.
The Southeast region of Texas took a tremendous hit after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Whether looking to rent or purchase a home, consumers are facing affordability and availability issues. Our goal is to gather a collective of industry experts to discuss what is being done currently and what steps can be taken to move housing forward. The symposium featured keynote speakers and panel discussions with housing industry experts from various entities. Additionally, elected officials and community stakeholders were included to provide further guidance on housing issues and address the need for more collaboration.
The event was a tremendous success with over 300 REALTORS®, real estate professionals and community stakeholders in attendance. Notably, HAR received a grant from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) under the Housing Opportunity Program to put on this event. HAR members who attended are already asking when the HAR Housing Symposium will be next year, so stay tuned!
Houston City Council Member Tiffany Thomas plays an integral role in housing for Houston. As Chair of Housing and Community Affairs, she oversees issues relating to housing, Veterans Affairs, homelessness, and solid waste. In her keynote address, Council Member Thomas said, “Housing is more than bricks and mortar. Housing is about community and generational wealth, especially in THIS city.” Thomas discussed the city’s responsibility to create tools to provide affordable housing.
City of Houston Housing and Community Development Director Keith Bynam has been a leader for housing in Houston since 1991. Bynam gave a great overview of housing from the government administration perspective. He oversees many of Houston’s housing programs and is responsible for millions of dollars in federal funding to power these programs. Houston has numerous housing programs, including Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Complete Communities initiative. Through collaborative efforts Houston has helped to provide 2,000+ affordable and attainable homes for Houston residents.
The event featured four panel discussions which addressed these key concepts:
- Affordable Housing
- Fair Housing
- Barriers to Housing
- Housing Inventory
- Credit Worthiness and Getting a Home Loan
- How can HAR members help consumers gain access to affordable housing, vouchers, down payment assistance, and other resources
- HAR and Community Partnerships
Affordable Housing, Fair Housing, and Barriers to Homeownership
- Laurie Benner, National Fair Housing Alliance
- Hannah Mannion, NestQuest Houston
- David Northern, Houston Housing Authority
- Moderator: Laolu Davies-Yemitan, 2022 HAR GAAG Member
Key Concepts for this panel: Fair Housing, Barriers to Housing and Homeownership, Housing Choice Voucher Program and finding housing with a voucher, demystifying Section 8 and other assistance programs.
Credit Worthiness, Getting a Home Loan
- Monica La Crue, Freddie Mac/Credit Smart
- Alyson Griffin, CrossCountry Mortgage
- Sharon Kane, Credit Beginning
- Moderator: Shad Bogany, 2022 HAR GAAG Member
Key Concepts for this panel: Making sure your client is credit ready to get a home loan, getting a home loan with certain barriers, different products offered by lenders and how to utilize them to promote homeownership for all, Freddie Mac/Credit Smart.
Lack of Inventory, Supply Chain Issues, Oh My!
- Aimee Bertrand, Greater Houston Builder Association
- Keith Leuchtefeld, Shea Homes
- Alan Watkins, Houston Housing Collaborative
- Moderator: Richelle Henderson, Harris County Housing Department
Key Concepts: What is causing the lack of housing, how can it be fixed, rental subdivisions, builder/developer perspective, and the opportunity for collaboration.
Collaboration is Key: Let’s fix this together
- Christa Stoneham, Houston Land Bank
- Lindsey Williams, City of Houston Planning
- Darren Blakemore, Houston Community Land Trust
- Moderator: Nicole Lopez
Key Concepts: City of Houston Departments and understanding each role, understanding CLT vs HLB, HAR’s collaboration efforts with city leadership, future plans for collaboration (Acres Home Project).