Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Harris County and City of Houston recovery czars Rep. Armando Walle and Marvin Odum on Wednesday announced the names of the members of a joint task force designed to bridge gaps in housing stability. The 24 community members, who bring deep experience at every point of the housing stability cycle, will provide recommendations to help structure the city and county’s response to the housing crisis, particularly among low-income people and communities of color, brought about by the COVID pandemic and downturn in the energy industry.
On Tuesday, the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University issued its inaugural State of Housing in Harris County and Houston report, which outlined massive challenges to the region’s housing sector. Among the highlights:
“The affordability once associated with the Houston region was disappearing even before we began to grapple with the one-two punch of economic and public health crises,” said Bill Fulton, director of the Kinder Institute. “The issue of evictions does not exist in a vacuum. Evictions have a cascade effect that extends beyond the housing system, affecting the health and future of our community. That’s why it’s critical to have all interests represented where decisions are being made, and I commend the city and county for bringing these key stakeholders together.”
The Housing Stability Task Force, which will be co-chaired by Harris County Justice of the Peace Jeremy Brown and civic leader Ric Campo of Camden Property Trust, consists of the following additional members:
The Task Force will be convened and supported by LISC Houston. The COVID-19 pandemic, compounded by a downturn in the energy industry, has intensified the rental housing crisis while also significantly impacting property owners, who face increased economic pressures due to the vast numbers of renters who have suffered loss of employment and income.
The task force will address three pressing needs:
“An eviction can have wide-ranging, long-term financial and psychological consequences, and the problem is much greater than we realize in Harris County,” said Housing Stability Task Force member Jeff Reichman, whose firm, January Advisors, released a neighborhood-level evictions dashboard on Tuesday. “Judge Brown brought needed attention to this issue by prioritizing eviction diversion in his own courtroom, and city and county leaders have used their respective bully pulpits to extend relief and delay proceedings. We have the data - the next logical step is bringing together key stakeholders to shape meaningful policy recommendations.”