HOUSTON CITY HALL

A consultant hired by the City of Houston gave the Houston City Council on Tuesday several recommendations to spark housing growth in the community.

David Gaines, managing director of Goldstone Consulting Group of Moberly, presented a report following several months of study. Gaines said there were opportunities to bring new housing to the community, which would spark economic growth. The effort, he said, would allow the city to attract new talent and increase the tax base not only for the city but other institutions, such as schools and others.

He outlined areas that need focus:

•Additional apartment housing, including one-bedroom units, as well as those that would have three or four bedrooms for families.

He found that the vacancy rates were low and landlords reported little time to rent units and sometimes had waiting lists.

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He also made recommendations for improving housing options locally:

•Develop a strong planning and zoning program. The council already has a review underway.

•Adopt a building code for Houston that results in establishing a standard for construction. Gaines said it would also help the community’s fire rating and translate into lower insurance premiums. The council has begun looking at other codes in several communities and is poised to adopt them.

•Create a demolition program that tackles property that has outlived its usefulness.

•Work on a housing incentives program that would encourage housing and maybe tackle some vacant second-story housing in the downtown business district. The city, he said, could look to offer a discount utility rate for a period, reduce connection costs and other options.

•Develop a community marketing effort that would attract young people or those who are retiring from military service at nearby Fort Leonard Wood. He noted military retirees are often a good source of workers for local employers.

The consultant made recommendations for improving housing options locally.

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