Hurricane Ike struck the upper Texas coastline in September 2008, causing widespread flooding and damage to many of Houston’s homes. Many low-income homeowners were unable to repair or rebuild their homes and had been living in sub-standard conditions since then. In response, the Texas General Land Office (GLO) granted $152 million to the City of Houston’s Housing and Community Development Department (HCDD) to administer Round 2 of the City’s Disaster Recovery Program (DR2). HCDD identified six target communities within Houston to focus the funding: Near Northside, Fifth Ward, Old Spanish Trail/ South Union, Acres Homes, Independence Heights, and Sunnyside.
DR2 chose to take an innovative approach for disaster recovery housing. Instead of identifying stock house plans to employ throughout the six neighborhoods, HCDD recognized the need to develop housing options that were specific to each neighborhood and in keeping with each community’s character. BcWorkshop, a nonprofit based in Dallas, Texas, was hired to lead the design team, consisting of Gulf Coast Community Design Studio and UnAbridged Architecture. Additionally, 12 local architecture firms were employed to develop schematic designs for 14 different house plans. In February 2014, a community workshop was held with residents from the six neighborhoods and designers led charrettes to discuss housing needs in each community. Activities were designed for the residents to participate in that would help lead discussion about design preferences and ways to enhance living. This workshop was instrumental in identifying contextual elements and housing needs that were eventually incorporated into schematic designs and was an opportunity for residents to give input. A focus group was held to facilitate in depth discussions and a gallery event showcased the preliminary designs and allowed residents to offer feedback. Individual homeowners were also able to give feedback and make decisions about their new home’s floorplan, elevation, site layout, and interior finishes.
Demolition on existing homes and new construction started in January 2015 with plans to continue construction into 2016.