Houston Land Trust Begins Selling Limited-Equity Homes

For decades, Houston had a reputation as a city where unzoned sprawl enabled people to afford housing. That has changed in the last several years, with houses on the fringes of the metropolitan area going for $200,000. Almost 215,000 Greater Houston households now spend more than half of their income on housing. And in the last two years, data-mining companies such as Entera have enabled large investors to grab lower-priced houses before ordinary homebuyers. The real-estate investment trust Blackstone, which works with Entera, purchased 2,600 homes in 2017, the Houston Chronicle reported in May.

A measure of help may come from the Houston Community Land Trust, a nonprofit formed last year that is working with the city government to “make affordable homeownership achievable for limited-income households.”

The city’s plan calls for 1,100 homes to be built and sold before 2024. The trust will sell them at below-market prices to people who make less than 80 percent or less of the area median income. The buyers will lease the land from the trust, and the homes’ resale value is not allowed to increase by more than 1.25 percent a year.

The first six, three-bedroom houses selling for about $75,000, are now on the market.

“This is a long-term tool that’s been in use for decades to stop displacement and gentrification,” trust executive director Ashley Allen told Texas Monthly.