The idea came about in 1970 when Lt Colonel L T Ray (retired, U. S. Air Force) was approached by the State of Texas group "Urban Renewal Agency". Ray was busy finishing out his degree work at TAMU and doing some independent contract work by flying for a mapping company at the time. The Urban Renewal Agency asked if he would be interested in supervising the construction of what would be Brenham Housing Authority. He said he would oversee the construction but would not be interested in running it after the completion.
The concept of Brenham Housing Authority was based upon a program of federally assisted housing for low income families and individuals who qualified based upon family status and income. The original concept would encompass 60 units on the east side of Horton. This development was named Sunnyside Terrace. The property was owned by several individual families and negotiations began to purchase the property and obtain clear titles. The land negotiation was time consuming and tedious. Fitch & Holdriedge of Houston were retained to design and engineer the project and Belco Construction Company retained as General Contractors. Lt. Colonel Ray supervised the groundbreaking and construction which began in November 1971. The construction process itself went smooth with no major problems. The biggest obstacle was due to an erosion problem resulting from the land having been the location of a former city landfill. Torrential rains inhibited construction and created the need for a major drainage system to be installed near the creek. Prior to construction completion, funding for an additional 60 units became available and more units were added for a total of 120. This new addition would be called Fairview Terrace. Construction continued and the units were completed and ready for occupancy the summer of 1972. Land on Rink street was purchased and 70 units were construction simultaneously. This third development would be called Crestview Terrace.
The Board of Commissioners (Ed Mickan, Josie Williams, Milton Krause, Taft Harris, W. F. Burt – Chairman, and Julian Weisler) asked Ray if he would consider managing the property after the construction phase as Executive Director. He stated that he had made so many promises here in town that it would seem that he would have to stay and see that those promises were kept. Ray had encountered obstacles while obtaining land to build the developments because people in town did not want low income housing and would not sell. Ray negotiated for months to obtain the land and was finally able to convince land owners to sell due in part to the promises he made to land owners as to how exactly this would be run. He stayed on to fulfill those promises and feels to this day that we have met or exceeded those ideals.
Housing needs demanded that yet more units would be needed and land on Hwy 36 was available. Stratford Properties had just built 50 Senior/Disabled units next to this land. This would be managed by BHA and named Northside Terrace. Construction began on the 72 family units now known as Northview on highway 36. At the time of completion, BHA offices relocated from the SHAPe Center to Northside Terrace, where they remain to this day.
What began as a dream to provide housing needs to the City of Brenham’s low income families is now Brenham Housing Authority, consisting of 302 Public Housing Units and 50 Senior/Disabled units. We not only offer housing, but social services, and educational choices as well. We have future plans for a child care facility and for a complete Family Self Sufficiency Program. We have become the dream that a handful of people had a vision of some 40 years ago.
Lt Col Ray retired after 20 years of dedicated service in 1992. He is still active in his community and drops by the office to visit every now and then.