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Group hunts for vacant lots to lift Corpus Christi up with affordable homes

housing market
Posted at 6:16 PM, Jan 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 19:16:22-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Corpus Christi real estate agent has jumped on-board with Thanksgiving Homes' mission to provide affordable housing for all. They are now trying to solve the issue of not having enough inventory for a place the size of Corpus Christi.

“Rising tide lifts all boats," said Brian Banks, an agent at ATC Metro Properties. "And so, I guess that’s the ultimate goal.”

Thanksgiving Homes is a non-profit and subsidiary of the Corpus Christi Housing Authority (CCHA). For the last few years, they’ve been building and selling homes well under the average listing price of a Corpus Christi home.

“We see a rebuilding of neighborhoods," said Gary Allsup, president and CEO of CCHA. "We see houses that are neighborhoods that used to be struggling and then, still are struggling perhaps, but then another new house goes in and then before you know it another new house goes in next door. And before you know it’s a completely redeveloped neighborhood.”

“The average person can’t afford the new home and then you’ve got these neighborhoods falling into disrepair and it just makes the city go downhill," Banks said. "But if you come in and revitalize these neighborhoods, you bring in affordable housing, the next thing you know the neighbors are fixing up their yards. They’re looking good. You’ve got businesses return and tax dollars increase. It's about lifting everyone."

There are currently 20 projects underway and a total of about 85 done or in the works.

The issue they run into is they need more vacant properties or empty lots.

“You see lots of vacant lots, but then trying to contact the owners," said Banks. "Sometimes it’s a deceased family member from two generations ago and so trying to track down the owners is very, very time consuming.”

"We try really hard not to go out and build a new subdivision some place because that really doesn't impact the goal like we would like to.

These 'affordable' houses are popping up in dozens of neighborhoods across the city. What about pricing?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average income per year in Corpus Christi is around $57,000. Several sources state the average listing price of a home is over $250,000. The average person can’t afford a new home, typically.

"The houses sell for between $160(k) and $180(k)," said Allsup. "The primary difference is how much we pay for a lot and how much we pay for the improvements."

All the homes have been three bedrooms and two bathrooms, but a bit smaller.

"I guess I also like the idea that I'm helping to change the stigma of affordable housing," Banks said. "Because people think of affordable housing and they think trashy little house, and don't bring down the value of my neighborhood. These are beautiful houses. These are hardie plank siding, hurricane windows, quartz counter tops, vinyl plank flooring, 9 ft ceilings, sprayfoam insulation in the attics, R15 in the walls. These are as nice or nicer than any anything on the market right now."

Banks is not part of Thanksgiving Homes, but they have worked together. Several builders have also joined in on the mission.

"We also encourage the builders to build some on their own as well. The fact that they've joined our mission, if you will, is awesome," said Allsup. "Because they don't make nearly as much money as they could building a $300,000 house on the south side."

Allsup said Thanksgiving Homes started five to six years ago and homes were to be rented. But now the buying of homes has taken off and they will only rent out one house every so often.

Allsup and Banks are both looking for more lots to further their goal. If you own a vacant property or know someone who does, they ask you contact them. Allsup can be reached at CCHA, 3701 Ayers St., 361-889-3300. Banks can be contacted at ATC Metro Properties, 4737 Mt. Vernon Dr., 361-851-8888.

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