New Hope Housing (NHH), a partner of The Way Home, opened its doors to assist families experiencing and at risk of experiencing homelessness in 2013 and never looked back. According to their website, “New Hope Housing’s core purpose is to provide life-stabilizing, affordable, permanent housing with support services for people who live on very limited incomes. Our vision is to be an enduring institution serving Houston’s most vulnerable citizens.”
One of their newest developments, known as Harrisburg, is the first ever mixed-use property to be developed by NHH. They broke ground on the property in April 2016 and opened the doors to residents earlier this year. Harrisburg partners include the City of Houston, the Houston Housing Authority, SEARCH Homeless Services, and the Coalition for the Homeless.
Over the past several months the property has shown wild success; it is now at 100 percent occupancy of its 175 single room occupancy (SRO) units. Of the current residents, 22 percent had been displaced by Hurricane Harvey, and were formerly at Residences on Emancipation. When Harrisburg was built, it replaced the Hamilton Street Property, which was NHH’s first SRO project that had been built 20 years prior.
Jason Thompson, a current resident of Harrisburg, found himself experiencing homelessness shortly after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. When asked how he felt moving into his new home, he said, “I was ecstatic moving in! It’s overwhelming and I couldn’t believe it. It touches me that I had somewhere to go.” Thompson says having a furnished apartment and four walls was more than enough to help him get on his feet again, and he knows having his own home will help him reach his highest potential.
For residents at Harrisburg, the average length of stay is approximately 33 months. Nicole Cassier-Mason, VP of Fund Development and Communications at NHH, says they believe in a relationship of housing, art and community at all their properties. If a visitor were to walk into the building, they would notice original artwork filling the walls and installations of historic photos from the surrounding neighborhood. NHH aims to shatter the stereotypes of what affordable housing looks like.
Harrisburg offers community spaces where residents are encouraged to come out from their rooms to interact and build relationships with others. Many residents have often lost connections with their friends or families, and NHH tries to encourage everyone to build a community within their property. Often times there may be weekly dinners in these shared spaces, with a fully-equipped kitchen on-site, or even movie nights.
Other amenities offered at Harrisburg are a business center where residents can participate in life-skills training, a library where books fill the walls and can be used freely, and a courtyard that offers a safe, quiet outside space for those looking for calm. Harrisburg also houses a social services office for SEARCH Homeless Services and NHH team members to access as needed so they can provide free social services to NHH residents and other collaborative partners.
For Harrisburg specifically, the neighborhood surrounding the property is very urban. With the METRO light rail being right outside the building, residents have easy access to transportation. Since Harrisburg has been occupied, there has been an 85 percent increase in ridership at the Second Ward station.
New Hope Housing continues to break down barriers and create state-of-the-art permanent housing solutions. To learn more about their organization, you may visit their website at http://www.newhopehousing.com.