There’s going to be a meeting of the minds to house the homeless this evening. It’s called a “Design Charrette,” and if you’re not familiar with the term, “It’s a community meeting event,” explains Daphne Lemelle, who is the Community Development Director at Harris County’s Community Services Department. Plans are underway to convert the former Ramada Inn on the Gulf Freeway at Cullen into housing for the homeless.
“We’re going to have renderings of the project, and what it will look like once it’s completely renovated,” says Lemelle. The new-and-improved complex will be known as Earl Hatcher Commons–a home for the chronically-homeless.
Harris County is funding the non-profit Housing Corporation of Greater Houston’s purchase of the property and renovations into permanent, supported housing. Lemelle says, “They’ve been around for 40-years, and they’ve developed a lot of affordable housing throughout the city and the county.”
The late Earl W. Hatcher was executive director of Housing Corp. of Greater Houston, and a longtime advocate for the homeless. He also worked on this project in its early stages. “It’s what we hope to be a catalyst for re-development and revitalization in the area, while also providing a needed service, and some housing to folks who need it desperately,” says Lemelle.
Earl Hatcher Commons will consist of 184-units–16 are one-bedroom units, and the others are efficiency units. “This project is offering a solution,” says Lemelle. “It’s offering some permanent housing for these folks, so they can get off of the streets, and is actually going to come with services to help them stabilize, and eventually move-on and be productive citizens in our community.” One of the design features will be to convert the current swimming pool in the center of the complex into a garden for the residents to cultivate.
You can get a preview of the place this afternoon (Thursday, October 17).
“The actual facility will be open–the pre-renovation facility,” Lemelle says, “So if you want to get an idea of what it looks like now,” from 4:30 to 5:30. From there the party moves to the E. C. Cape Center on Leeland, starting at 5:30pm. “We’re going to have renderings of the project, and what it will look like once it’s completely renovated,” she says.
“Housing is the key to getting those persons transitioned into a better way of life, as well as helping them where they are now,” says Lemelle. Earl Hatcher Commons will open in 2016.
LISTEN TO DAPHNE LEMELLE DESCRIBE THE PLANNED EARL HATCHER COMMONS: