Apartment Stimulus Plan Expanded in Brays Oaks Area

May 17, 2011 • Houston Chronicle

Brays Oaks Management District has revised its stimulus plan for multi-family housing complexes in the area to serve more families with school-age children.

First introduced in 2009, the district’s Multi-family Marketing Stimulus Plan provided incentives for the district’s 78 apartment communities to join the Houston Apartment Association and begin using its Resident Credit Reporting program to improve tenant screening and aid crime prevention.

Those that signed up got to tout a free after-school bus service for children who attend Fondren and Welch middle schools as a way to attract and retain tenants.

The program has since expanded to provide a late bus for Westbury High School and add drop-offs at the Westland YMCA and the India House, said Richard Rodriguez, director of community services for the management district. The late bus service is available even to apartment communities within two miles of the schools now served, he said.

The late buses are “a huge incentive” for apartment communities, Rodriguez said.

“If you live within two miles of a school, you don’t get transportation from Houston ISD. For parents working late, this allows their kids to stay at school for enrichment,” he said.

“Fondren Middle had a hard time keeping anyone for after-school activities. Since that bus service became available, it’s become so big they need two buses now. It’s really helped supplement the Apollo 20 program, which provides after-school tutoring,” Rodriguez said.

The management district also has begun paying dues for its apartment complexes to join HAA and the credit screening service, he added. Previously, about 70 of the district’s apartment communities were using the service.

“The credit reporting program really only works if everyone is on board. It sets up a network of communication between all the complexes. Once we get it going, it’s going to be difficult for bad tenants to find a apartment here,” Rodriguez said.

The program also pays for apartment managers to attend Houston Police Department’s Blue Star training program, which aims to improve safety and security at multi-family housing complexes.

The next training session will be held in August, Rodriguez said.

Created by the Texas Legislature in 2005, the management district is funded by commercial properties within its boundaries and provides public safety, mobility and environmental design programs in a nine-square-mile region east of U.S. 59 between Brays Bayou and U.S. 90A. The district’s boundaries could be expanded to the north and the east later this summer if Gov. Rick Perry signs legislation pending in the 82nd Texas Legislature.