Earlier this year, housing experts from Houston and beyond met with active participants (decision makers, faith-based and community leaders, residents, CDCs, researchers, corporate partners, developers, and advocates) for the Houston & Harris County Housing Conversation, a day-long event in which they discussed how to address the challenges Houston and Harris County are facing as the region attempts to structure an approach to housing that works for all Houstonians. Boulevard realtor Yenny Mattei was lucky enough to attend this event and wanted to go over some of the important themes, and share why she’s so passionate about affordable housing.
Housing is such a complex topic that affects us all as members of a society as well as individuals. Everyone, no matter how much money they make, is seeking affordable housing. Unfortunately, establishing affordable housing for everyone is no easy task. That’s why events like these are so important, as they help further the conversation and move things in the right direction. So much was discussed during the event, which was divided up into three broad topics: Housing for People, Housing for Place and Community, and Houston and Harris County Housing Priorities. To make better sense of all that was covered, the amazing Kinder Institute for Urban Research prepared a detailed report on this event. The report identified 7 cross-cutting themes that emerged over the course of the day:
- Shared Understanding: There is a great need for a shared understanding of issues around how the housing system operates and how residents navigate it. This common knowledge needs to be understood by everyone, no matter their race, income level, educational level, or what language they speak. Communication and information are key to developing a shared understanding of the housing system. By establishing shared terminology and education about the housing system and by providing publicly accessible data, it becomes much easier to create a shared understanding.
- Shared Vision: The crafting of this vision should include participation from stakeholders across the housing system. The vision itself should:
- Consist of clear and bold goals
- Recognize that housing effort benefits all
- Be based in equity
- Secure investments for communities in a variety of sectors
- Develop a strategy by geography, population, income level, etc.
- Tools and Policies: Many tools and policies were discussed that will contribute to achieving the region’s shared vision around housing. It was established that a diverse grouping of tools and policies will need to be used to effectively achieve the shared vision.
- Public Accountability around Housing: Public agencies and officials must remain open and cooperative about efforts around housing and related services. This is essential to building trust.
- Authentic Community Engagement: By working together and purposefully engaging, communities can help shape policies and plans.
- Political Will & Leadership: Public officials must be able to step up to the issue and the residents and advocates must then hold the public leaders accountable; Political will is a critical component to tackling housing challenges in Houston, Harris County, and anywhere in the world.
- Interwoven Issues: There are many interwoven issues (education, healthcare, transportation, employment and wages, etc.) that are in some way connected to housing. Housing plans, when viewed in isolation, cannot address all these interwoven issues. However, careful efforts that establish clear ties between housing programs and other linked services could be effective launching points for using the housing discussion to address a wide variety of important issues.
Coming from the underdeveloped country of Venezuela, where none of these cross-cutting themes are in place, and on the contrary, many housing opportunities are taken away from you, the topic of affordable housing is naturally one I am very passionate about. Events like this make me so proud to now call this wonderful country home. It’s such a blessing to have such a great team of advocates engaged in the complicated and necessary topic of housing.
My applause to the Houston Housing Authority for being so committed to establishing affordable housing for all Houstonians. I hope that our city, and our country, only continue to improve in this area, finding new and better ways to develop affordable housing for everyone, thus creating a place where dedication and hard work do indeed bear fruit. I can only wish all countries in the world follow this lead and I pray we continue on this path in the years to come.
While living in Venezuela, I was able to graduate from one of the best universities in the country all because of my dad. I couldn’t have done it on my own due to the lack of opportunities there; My dad had to financially support me the whole time, even though it was hard for him, paying not only for my university education, but also financing my trip to the United States to learn English in 1998. I came here with only $2,500 in my pocket, and because of the brutal dictatorial regime that was going into place in Venezuela at that time, and that’s still there today, nearly 20 years later, I knew I would never be able to return if I wanted a different future, so I made Houston my home.
Houston presented every opportunity to me and I made the most of it. I obtained a master’s degree from U of H, which I did not have to pay a single penny for, as I got a job as a research assistant. This meant that they accepted my hard work and dedication as a way of paying them for that opportunity. Soon after I graduated, I got my first job and just with an offer letter from National Oilwell I was able to buy my first house in the Heights…talk about affordable housing…talk about opportunities…talk about the American dream! Affordable housing truly can be life changing, and I’m excited to see how our city continues to work to solve Houston’s housing issues now and in the future.This entry was posted in Recognize, Rediscover, Reinvent
- affordable housing
- Houston & Harris County Housing Conversation
- Houston Food Bank
- Houston Housing Authority
- Kinder Institute
- Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research