DEC PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: ACRES HOMES
Updated: Jun 17
One of the most notable projects in Dannenbaum history is Acres Homes, which grew from a rural community of one-acre home sites to a population of about 50,000. Inexpensive land and low taxes attracted people to the area, but as the population increased so did the problems.
Sewage ran from privies and septic tanks into open ditches along the streets. The people living there worked in Houston and their sewage flowed into White Oak Bayou. The overall situation was not only dangerous to the residents of the area but posed a potential epidemic situation for the entire City. Concerned citizens knew they had a problem.
The Federal Housing Act of 1965 paved the way for Federal financing as part of the cost of supplying water and sewer service to Acres Homes. A non-profit water supply corporation was formed to finance the remainder of the cost. Community leaders from both Acres Homes and Houston took a strong interest in correcting the deplorable conditions that existed in the area. Those leaders sought a man to assist them in bringing the needed services to reality. They found a man willing to help – his name, Joe Dannenbaum. He visited the area and saw the need was desperate. The citizens of Acres Homes had found an advocate for their cause, one with the kind of experience they needed and, as the years were to prove, the determination required to see the project through.
Before engineering or construction could begin, the necessary applications had to be drawn and filed to form the non-profit Northwest Houston Water Supply Corporation. Hearings were held and finally, the financing corporation was established. Now applications had to be made to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for financial assistance under the Federal Housing Act of 1965. Weeks turned into months and the planning work continued.
On March 21, 1967, the announcement was made that HUD had issued a grant to help finance the planning of public sewerage and waterworks facilities. Dannenbaum began the design for the facilities for Phase One, and the long-awaited project was underway. Construction contracts were bid in October and November of 1967, and the actual construction began shortly thereafter.
The groundbreaking ceremony was held on June 18, 1968. The construction continued under the direction of Dannenbaum. The restricted working areas and the poor soil conditions only slowed the project slightly. Additional people and companies were added to the list of supporters who were determined to overcome the problems and bring safe drinking water and sewage disposal to Acres Homes. Through their determined efforts this dream, this desire, had been realized.
The culmination of the Acres Homes project meant more than water and sewers. It meant that homes would be eligible for Federal Housing Administration loans, fire insurance rates would go down, and the general health of the area would go up. The community and individual pride increased rapidly as the construction was completed, and it became part of the City of Houston.
Just as important as the tangible results of the project were the intangible results. The citizens turned from a feeling of hopelessness to a unit with pride and hope.