Our coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic examines the disease's effects on Houston and the surrounding region, both now and once the outbreak is over.

Despite the pandemic, Austin, Dallas and Houston all built more housing last year. It still wasn't enough.

Clearly, housing demand is outstripping new construction in the big Texas metros. But according to data compiled by Rent.com, the problem is not supply—it’s demand. During the pandemic year, Houston and DFW produced more housing than any other large metro area in the nation. And Austin, despite its rapidly increasing home prices, is off the charts on supply. Austin produced more housing per capita during the pandemic year than any other large metro in the country. And in raw numbers, Austin produced more multifamily housing units last year than any metro in the country except for New York, which is almost 10 times Austin’s size.

As we worked to corral COVID-19, traffic deaths spun out of control

Compared to 2019, all 80 of the largest U.S. cities experienced less traffic in 2020 — from 10% to as much as 47% less. Congestion levels fell as well, from 2% to as much as 15%. Houston saw 33% less traffic and the congestion level dropped from 24% to 16%. But by the end of the year, vehicle miles traveled in Texas totaled 293.4 billion, 1.75% more than in 2019.

Black neighborhoods have led the Houston area’s surge in start-ups during the pandemic

In sharp contrast to the Great Recession and the steady decline in start-ups since the late 1970s, the United States has experienced something like an entrepreneurial reawakening in the past 15 months. In 2020, amid a pandemic, 4.4 million new businesses were created in America — 24% more than in 2019 — data from the Census Bureau shows. And the growth has continued in the first five months of this year, increasing another 15% over the final five months of 2020, and surging 62% compared to the first five months of 2019.

The return to work will determine the fate of downtowns. Is Houston ready for what’s next?

Central Houston President Bob Eury has been tracking COVID-19 case counts since the early days of the pandemic and has the spreadsheet to prove it. It was a ritual that he says helped him stay on top of the virus and how far off “normal” might be. But there may be one number he is tracking even more closely: how many of downtown’s estimated 168,000 workers are returning to the office. 

How an urban gardener without a yard grows vegetables for a family of 5

The past few months have been terrifying, but also cathartic. The pandemic has shaken most of us from a false sense of security about our individual health, the efficacy of our cities to provide a high quality of life, and forced us to question many of our daily habits — how we live, work, travel and exercise, as well as how we source the food we eat. Our connection to nature. The primary lesson we, once again, must learn is that cities are not divorced from nature. They are a part of the larger biome in which they’re located.

Lessons from the garden city and one planner’s plot to escape London

The past few months have been terrifying, but also cathartic. The pandemic has shaken most of us from a false sense of security about our individual health, the efficacy of our cities to provide a high quality of life, and forced us to question many of our daily habits — how we live, work, travel and exercise, as well as how we source the food we eat. Our connection to nature. The primary lesson we, once again, must learn is that cities are not divorced from nature. They are a part of the larger biome in which they’re located.