Houston is scheduled to receive $13 million in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds. The city will provide money for the acquisition and rehab of foreclosed and abandoned properties.

HOUSTON— Mayor Bill White has faced some huge issues since taking office in 2004. First, there was Hurricane Katrina that sent thousands of Gulf Coast residents fleeing to his city for refuge.

Houston was then hit with a disaster of its own when Hurricane Ike ripped through the nation's fourth-largest city in 2008, leaving it with a critical shortage of affordable housing. About 6,700 residential units in the region were estimated to be completely uninhabitable, and 18,700 households were presumed displaced.

“We need creative ways to develop more affordable housing, including programs like the one we have implemented, which makes tax-delinquent abandoned properties available to developers at little cost,” says White, who has launched a U.S. Senate campaign.

He says many of his key accomplishments have come in the area of affordable housing. Houston officials say the single-most effective program has been Apartments to Standard, which was initiated in 2007. City staff identified five neighborhoods with deficient housing stock, high density, and older housing that was appropriate to rehabilitate. Key funding was then targeted to the Fondren/Southwest Freeway area for a year.

A total of 1,000 units are being substantially rehabbed at a cost of $20 million. Police, street, and other community improvements have also been targeted to the area.

City officials say projects selected under the program are required to make improvements substantial enough to extend the life of a project by at least 20 years.