A new affordable housing project for homeless individuals is moving forward in Midtown after the Houston City Council approved a $18.7 million loan agreement at its Aug. 24 meeting.

However, some council members said they are concerned about the project's developer, which has come under scrutiny following a string of resident complaints at another area community.

The loan funds were made possible through Hurricane Harvey Community Development Block Grants designed to help cities recover affordable housing projects that were lost during the 2017 floods. The project at 3300 Caroline St. will feature 149 apartments and shared space for supportive programs and office space. It will be built through a partnership between the nonprofit Magnificat Houses and the NHP Foundation, a New York City-based company that works to preserve affordable housing.

The grant was approved one week after it first came before the council. At its Aug. 17 meeting, the agenda item was tagged after several council members expressed concerns about another affordable housing project run by NHP—Cleme Manor at 5300 Coke St. in Houston's Fifth Ward—where residents have alleged unsafe living conditions.

A series of public speakers addressed the council at sessions that took place Aug. 16 and Aug. 23, calling on council members to reject the grant funding. Individuals spoke of a lack of maintenance, rodent problems and repairs not being made in a reasonable time.

Prior to the grant funding's approval, Turner announced an agreement the city reached with the NHP Foundation to conduct a property condition assessment at Cleme Manor. The city entered into a loan agreement in 2014 with Jamestown Affordable Housing—an affiliate of NHP—agreeing to loan the company $3 million to acquire Cleme Manor.

Under the agreement, the assessment must be conducted by a third party approved by Houston, and a completed report must be filed with the city by Oct. 15. Following that, repairs must be made to the city's satisfaction within the next 90 days. If repairs are not made, NHP will be considered to have defaulted on its loan agreement.

"The way the Manor has been handled has been horrific," Turner said at the Aug. 24 meeting. "The criticisms are all valid."

The new Caroline Street project is being funded through a collaboration between the city and Harris County with the latter contributing $10.2 million. As part of Harris County's funding agreement, a tenant bill of rights has been established that the city can enforce as well, Turner said. The bill of rights provides protections for tenants when it comes to forming a tenant organization, getting broken elements repaired and dealing with hazardous conditions, among others.

The grant funding was authorized by the Texas General Land Office and can only be used on the specific project and developer identified by the GLO, Turner said. Once complete, the new community will serve a critical need in housing the homeless, he said.

"The main problem we have with housing the homeless is the lack of units," Turner said.

In a statement, NHP Foundation President Eric Price said the foundation looks forward to "working with the city and county to ensure the safest, highest-quality housing is constructed."

"Houston is an important city to our organization, and we look forward to being an even bigger part of this community to provide much-needed permanent supportive housing," Price said.

Six council members voted against the item, including Tiffany Thomas, Tarsha Jackson, Amy Peck, Leticia Plummer, Mike Knox and Mary Nan Huffman.

Plummer said the issue with uninhabitable apartments in Houston goes far beyond Cleme Manor.

"We're focusing on [Cleme Manor] because it’s the loudest, but it's important we need to print out about 2,500 more of these [property condition assessment agreements] and put every apartment complex on there," she said. "We're focusing only on [residents] that have sacrificed the time to come here and complain over and over again. This is just not enough."

Other ccouncil members who supported the grant, including District J Council Member Edward Pollard, said the city still needs a more comprehensive way to hold apartment owners accountable. Pollard suggested the property condition assessment at Cleme Manor could be used to set a precedent.

The loan term stretches 40 years from the date construction on the project is completed. The GLO requires the project to be fully completed and leased by August 2024.