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Photo by Val Glitsch, FAIA

private par tnership involving contributions from the cit y government, foundah o u s t o n During a Nov. 17 dedication certions, corporations, emony, Houston non-profit New Hope Housing churches, and indiannounced the opening of Canal Street Apartvidual donors. ments, the city’s first single room occupancy The complex offers apartment complex built in a neighborhood dis200- and 300-sf units, trict. Located at 2821 Canal Street in Houston’s with the larger rooms Second Ward, the 133-unit complex is the third providing ADA accesSRO developed by New Hope Housing in the past sibility. Each private 12 years. The organization developed Houston’s unit is fully furnished The first SRO efficiency complex built in a Houston neighborhood, New Hope Housing’s Canal Street first SRO in 1995. and includes a tiled Apartments provides unique low-cost housing opportunities for adults with modest incomes. Without compromising quality of structure bath, m icrowave, and services, Canal Street Apartments offer Concrete block and galvanized fencing are refrigerator, Cable television, and high-speed inexpensive, permanent housing for adults combined with bright colors and a stucco facade, Internet access. “It’s an idealized college dorm living alone on a low income. To qualify, tenthe palette borrowed from the area’s existing room,” Horak-Brown said. ants must earn between $6,120 and $25,000 structures. Gardens, courtyards, and the formaCanal Street and the organization’s other per year and be living singly. Much of the tenant tion of defensible space suggest elements of traproperties constitute the lowest-cost SRO effipopulation consists of the elderly living on ditional architecture and encourage a sense of ciency apartments in Houston, with rent capped pensions, veterans, students, individuals with community among residents. The use of transat $350 per month including utilities. On a oneminor disabilities, and clients of the area’s parency in the design – mainly through glass year lease, tenants pay $340 per month for one social service agencies. “We are on the forefront and gaps – open the interior spaces and increase unit at Canal Street. of preventing homelessness by offering high visibility into and within the buildings, creating As part of the revitalization of Houston’s quality, safe, affordable housing to people on a spatial fluidity while still defining boundaries Second Ward/East End, one of the city’s oldest fixed income,“ said Joy Horak-Brown, executive and providing a sense of security. neighborhoods, the SRO is conveniently located director of New Hope Housing. “The design gives the people an opportunity two miles from the downtown area. Built on nine A debt-free, self-supporting project, Canal to be by themselves and enjoy some privacy and parceled lots between two commercial streets, Street Apartments was funded by a public/ the opportunity to develop a sense of community the 40,000-sf complex and friendship and an openness to the rest of the is divided into two sepcommunity,” Glitsch said. arate forms. A two-story Centralized shared spaces around the courtU-s h aped s t r uc t u re yard provide areas for communal activity. A housing garden-entry library, group living, meeting, and dining areas, units and a three-story two community kitchens, and an expansive building with internally outdoor balcony provide transparent gathering accessible rooms join at spaces available for use around the clock. “The a breezeway, enclosing design speaks to inviting the neighborhood in an interior courtyard and making the residents an integral part of that and fountain. neighborhood,” Horak-Brown said. Designed by archiCanal Street Apartments also incorporates a tect Val Glitsch, FAIA, resident support program including life skills of Val Glitsch, FA IA, training, access to the area’s social services, and Architect, the complex a free shuttle system designed to help tenants is a modern addition to lead independent and productive lives. the area while reflect“The apartments provide a sense of freedom ing the predominately for residents,” Glitsch said, “a sense of being Hispanic heritage of able to make choices about how they live.” the neighborhood. “We wanted it to be fairly a s h l e y s t . c l a i r contemporary—moving the neighborhood forAshley St.Clair is assistant editor of Texas Architect. ward—yet still in the flavor of the neighborThe two structures of the Canal Street Apartments join to form a cloister-like area that features hood,” Glitsch said. an outdoor courtyard with native landscaping and a Spanish-inspired fountain.

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Photo by miro dvorak

Low-Income Housing Brings ‘New Hope’ to Residents of Houston’s Second Ward

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Texas Architect Jan/Feb 2006: Schools