Texas Low Income Housing Information Service develops model solutions to Texas’ critical housing and community development problems. Recent areas of work illustrate how problems can turn into opportunities:
Bringing people together to solve community problems
TxLIHIS works closely with partner organizations in low income communities in Houston, the Rio Grande Valley and elsewhere to support the ground-level advancement of housing policy and neighborhood improvement. Along the Texas-Mexico border, a coalition of groups provide assistance to colonia residents to improve grossly substandard housing, develop new homes and overcome other community problems such as lack of drainage and public lighting service. In the Houston area, TxLIHIS advocates for permanent housing solutions for victims of Gulf Coast Hurricanes, and collaborates on initiatives to promote fair housing and to help low income residents of Texas’ urban communities to obtain or retain safe, affordable housing.
Recovering from Gulf Coast hurricanes
Low income Gulf Coast residents, with their homes already in a vulnerable state, have suffered disproportionately from the hurricanes of the past decade. TxLIHIS has worked with coastal community leaders to see that funds enable lower income residents to rebuild their lives in decent homes, and in 2010 achieved a historic conciliation agreement with the state of Texas to appropriately director disaster recovery funding to the hardest-hit communities. The organization continues to monitor that effort and work to ensure that low income communities are involved in the decision-making process.
Serving as a watchdog over government housing programs
TxLIHIS has a successful track record as both a public interest research organization and an independent, aggressive monitor of government housing and community development programs, including the aforementioned state conciliation agreement. Our joint study, along with the University of Texas, of the state housing agency’s home lending record discovered that the agency was not lending to low income families. Six months later, the Legislature abolished that agency and created a new one explicitly charged with addressing the problems raised by our study. Since we identified the explosive growth of poverty in Texas colonias, the Legislature has allocated tens of millions of dollars for colonia housing programs. TxLIHIS continues to work with government agencies, community partners and the media to maximize the benefit of government housing programs and funding sources.
Providing accurate, easily understood help and information
Housing and community development policies and programs are complex, frequently changing and often confusing to low income people and the general public. TxLIHIS cuts through the complexity and red tape, providing accurate, easily understandable information about housing needs and programs. The organization distributes information through special reports, press releases and this website. The interactive Texas Housing Counselor website is the Internet’s most complete guide to affordable housing in Texas, with extensive information on rules, eligibility and location of low income housing in the state. From the hundreds of low income people completing Housing Counselor sessions each week to find affordable housing, to helping a tenant in a dispute with a landlord through the Texas Tenant Advisor, to the reporter looking for the latest information about housing programs and community action, our nationally-recognized website is a vital information resource.