Research and discussion for citizens and decision makers

Houston’s Neighborhood Centers seen as a model for alleviating suburban poverty

Featured on CityLab

Share This

As more middle- and upper-class Houstonians flock to densifying and walkable urban neighborhoods in Houston’s inner-loop, lower-income residents are settling in older suburban areas of the region, where housing prices are more affordable. This brings with it several issues, including increased transportation costs, dispersed locations of social services, and communities that may be less tight-knit than in historic urban centers.

CityLab recently wrote about Houston’s own Neighborhood Centers to showcase the nonprofit group’s work to alleviate poverty in suburban communities. The piece features an in depth look at Neighborhood Center’s Baker-Ripley center in Gulfton, which “offers lessons for alleviating poverty and building communities across a sprawling urban region.” More from CityLab:

However, what really sets Neighborhood Centers apart is its philosophy. It rejects the premise underlying so much philanthropic work: that places where poor people live are inherently broken and need fixing. Instead, the organization has embraced “appreciative inquiry,” a process that assesses the strengths of a community through extensive interviews with its residents, then collaboratively builds on those. Once the nonprofit and the community embark on a plan of action, outcomes are tracked rigorously.

In the Gulfton area of southwest Houston, typically known for its high crime and gang activity, Neighborhood Centers found a culture defined by strong family ties and parents who work hard for their children to have a better life. The close engagement with Gulfton resulted in the opening of the Baker-Ripley campus in 2010, one of five full-blown centers it operates around metropolitan Houston. (The other locations are smaller “service sites,” like senior and career centers, often run through partnerships.)

The bright, village-style campus has become the center of gravity that so many suburban communities lack. It has a charter school, health clinic, credit union and tax prep center, immigration information office, classrooms, a green community space, and more, all based on input from local residents. They had highlighted the need for transportation, too, so there’s a bus service that takes them from the center to the grocery store or the doctor. The Houston Chronicle recently called the campus “the keystone of a revival of the Gulfton area.”

Full story: How to Tackle Growing Suburban Poverty
Source: CityLab, October 31, 2014

Photo: Neighborhood Centers (Flickr)

More from Houston





Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Submit the word you see below:

Upcoming Events

There are no upcoming events

More Upcoming Events

Livability News


10 Big Things

Hurricane Harvey suggest the need for a fundamentally new paradigm that values the sustainability of life

Mayor Sylvester Turner

Five strategies to facilitate the paradigm shift in transportation

Jay Blazek Crossley

Stop investing in roads to build new neighborhoods that cause other neighborhoods to flood

More Commentary

Houston Tomorrow
1900 Kane St, #111, Houston, TX 77007
Phone 713.523.5757

RSS Feed