The city’s housing finance corporation soon will list for sale five houses along Winnie Street and start developing other houses on the island meant to be affordable.
The Galveston Housing Finance Corp. met this week to determine its costs and consider sale prices for the houses in the 3400 block of Winnie and to discuss whether to purchase three more lots in the neighborhood, board President Patricia Bolton-Legg said.
The houses are the latest developments in a broader plan to address Galveston’s affordable housing shortage, she said. The houses haven’t been priced yet because the corporation is still finalizing the last of its expenses and waiting for the power company to install underground electrical work, she said.
“They look really nice and complete the block,” Bolton-Legg said. “We’re trying to create a more neighborhood feel instead of a lot of empty blocks being around the city.”
The Winnie project started in February and the corporation plans to list the properties within the month, she said. Once the houses sell, the corporation would begin building four new properties on lots it owns around Galveston, Bolton-Legg said.
The housing corporation in 2014 purchased the land, which had been the site of a nightclub before Hurricane Ike in 2008, Bolton-Legg said. Construction began late last year.
The surrounding neighborhood has historically been more industrial with its proximity to Harborside Drive and has empty lots scattered throughout, she said.
The projects had been slated for completion by April, but construction was delayed in part because of issues connecting the electricity, she said. The corporation needed two electrical poles installed on the properties and had to seek easements and other permits for the work, she said.
“The houses are pretty much complete, we just need to get the electricity,” she said.
The homes will be eligible for sale to families with a household income between $31,746 and $57,200 annually, according to the corporation.
Homeowners will need to provide their own financing, but can qualify for different programs offering down payment and closing cost assistance, she said.
Affordable housing is an acute issue in Galveston where thousands of people in the local workforce live off the island, at least in part attributed to the shortage of housing priced less than $200,000. Some elected leaders of late have been discussing how to address those needs, including building a housing subdivision near the airport and reducing flood insurance rates.
Now, the corporation could look to buy more land near 41st Street and Winnie to develop houses. The landowner had approached the corporation and Bolton-Legg encouraged board members this week to drive by the properties before making a decision, she said. The corporation owns land purchased from tax foreclosures around the island, she said.
The corporation’s board of directors first discussed the possible land buy Tuesday, Bolton-Legg said.
Similar houses — built to sell below-market value to eligible homeowners — exist around the island, Bolton-Legg said. The city-sponsored Galveston Housing Finance Corp. has worked on similar projects, including at Barton Square, where the corporation built more than 40 homes in the early 2000s, she said.
The housing corporation was created by the city council, but gets its funding from federal sources, not city taxes, according to the corporation. It’s not considered a city board, but the city council appoints members to the housing corporation board.
The corporation sells properties close to at-cost, but does use a small profit on the sales to buy other foreclosed properties or land, she said.
Once the five houses on Winnie are sold, the corporation would begin work to build four houses on four empty lots it owns around Galveston, Bolton-Legg said.
“We do a project, complete it and move on to another project,” Bolton-Legg said.