A recently released study conducted by Rice University and the Sankofa Research Institute found that vacant lots topped the list of concerns for residents of Houston’s historic Third Ward.
The report, which combines the results of 1,616 heads of households, represents a 49 percent response rate according to the authors. One of the most notable takeaways was the level of community connectedness they found. They found more residents involved with a neighborhood association, civic club, or resident council than the national average and a majority of the respondents reported feeling strongly tied to their community “overwhelmingly satisfied with living in the Third Ward.”
They shared concerns of increased costs of living going forward as well as a problem with vacant lots that led to criminal and other illicit behavior.
“While there are challenges present in the Third Ward, the information presented in this report also paints a picture of resilience,” reads the report.
An overwhelming number of respondents were renters, 81 percent of respondents were renters and 16 percent has owned their homes. 54 percent of them living in single-family homes and 35 percent of them living in apartments. They found that renting was five times more common than home ownership was.
When it came to neighborhood concerns, in large numbers residents showed concern for vacant lots, crime came in as a close second but that too is exacerbated by the plague of vacant lots.
Midtown Redevelopment Authority owns nearly 500 vacant lots in Third Ward purchased for the purpose of creating affordable housing. The problem is most have sat undeveloped, and unmanaged for some time leading to unsanitary conditions and illicit activity on the property.
According to residents who have been fighting the MRA, the organization plans on taking ten years to begin developing affordable housing on the property. The residents suggested allowing them to create pocket parks or other neighborhood amenities for the time being but were rejected.