Oak Harbor Apartments were hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. The 48 unit complex was deemed unlivable after the storm. It’s a situation all too familiar around Rockport.
“When you have half the inventory of workforce housing completely off-line for the last year thant absolutely impacts the ability for people to move back if they were here before the storm,” said George P. Bush, Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office.
Bringing the workforce back is the goal behind more than $7 million in Community Development Block Grant money, federally funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and disbursed by the GLO.
Oak Harbor is one of three complexes in Rockport scheduled to be rebuilt under this program. When finished, nearly 140 affordable apartments will be available to welcome back the city’s workforce.
That comes as music to Chris Fisher’s ears. Fisher’s family owns Route 35 Eats, a popular Rockport restaurant.
According to Fisher, there’s been a shortage of workers since the storm.
“This is a restaurant so we want good customer service, and it’s difficult to find those people regardless,” said Fisher. “Now it’s very difficult.”
Fisher estimates the restaurant lost 30-40% of its employees after Harvey. He believes affordable housing won’t just bring back quality workers.
“We look forward to the business too, we did lose a lot of our regulars,” said Fisher. “A small restaurant like this, we thrive on our regulars. I’m a waiter, I live off of tips, and these people are paying my tips.”
The Oak Harbor project will begin in 30-60 days and will cost more tha $1.5 million. Units should be ready for tenants in eight months to a year.
Two additional projects are also in the work for Corpus Christi and Refugio. In all, Coastal Bend communities are getting close to $13 million dollars to rebuild affordable apartments.