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Celebrating CDBG
Celebrating CDBG
Providing Help
CSD Directors
CSD Directors
CDBG So often in public service, we become focused on programs, guidelines and general bureaucratic minutia. We talk in acronyms, like CDBG, NSP and DAP, when all people want is HELP.

This week, in honor of National Community Development week, we are highlighting the results of projects recently completed with Harris County Community Development Block Grant and other federal funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Through these grants we are asked to provide life-enhancing solutions to people primarily in the low to moderate income areas and their communities through housing, infrastructure, public services and development.

The most gratifying part of this work is in seeing the tangible results of projects and programs, through the eyes of those who benefit most; the single mom in a new home, a community coming together around a Spark Park, the senior citizen who knows he can count on a ride to the doctor, or who has found a living center that is safe and affordable; and finally, the person who has lost her job and just needs rent and utility money to fill in the gap until their next one is found.

These are just a few of the stories that we have been a part of this year. As always, the results come down to people; the support of our elected officials at Harris County Commissioners Court; our competent and dedicated staff; our committed non-profit grant recipients, and finally those who began with the need in the first place. Welcome to our virtual tour.


David Turkel, Director Daphne Lemelle, Director
Harris County Community Services Community Development

 National Community Development Week Proclamation



Providing Help
Banda Family
  Paula Banda can’t hide her pleasure when she looks at her four-bedroom, 2800 square foot home in Humble, Texas. The single mom, with two children ages 4 and 8, have been cramped inside an apartment less than a thousand square feet their whole lives. Today each has their own bedroom with one to spare. Banda, who is a Walgreens Pharmacy - Tech said she didn’t dream she’d ever live in a house that size. But as she went through the process of buying her home, her realtor told her about a Harris County Home-Buying program that enables homebuyers to purchase foreclosed homes at deeply discounted prices. Banda’s monthly payments are well within the budget she needs to raise her young family in an area that has a reputation for good schools.

For more information about H.O.M.E. click here.


Providing Help
Spark Park
Spark Park
Spark Park
Spark Park
  Matthys Elementary students and faculty, residents of the South Houston community and various elected officials came together this spring to celebrate the completion of South Houston’s first Spark Park. Harris County Community Services provided a $91,000 Community Development Block Grant toward the park.

An additional $8,000 was raised by students and community members through events such as the annual fall carnival. Other major contributors include Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, $5,000; Mi Tienda Restaurant, $7,500; Lowe’s Home Improvement, $5,000, Gage Roofing, $500.

The mosaic artwork surrounding the park has was created by Matthys students under the supervision of the Galveston based artist/educators organization called Artist Boat www.artistboat.org. For every hour the students devoted to this art project, they also study an hour of science.

Spark Parks were created in 1983 by Councilmember Eleanor Tinsley. Her daughter, Kathleen Ownby is Executive Director of the Spark program. Spark Parks open after hours and on weekends for the entire community. For more information about Spark Parks and how they are created, go to http://www.sparkpark.org/.


Providing Help
  Harris County has been providing free non-emergency medical transportation to those who are low income or elderly since 1958. Today, those who pre-qualify to be in the program call and make appointments for a given day to be transferred to their doctor or clinic. Those receiving dialysis, chemotherapy, radiation or some other ongoing treatment can request standing appointments. Wini Brady, owner of Liberty Cab Company provides the service through Harris County Transit Services in addition to her regular cab service. Brady says her experience with the rehabilitation of a grandson who is a burn survivor has given her a sense of mission for this service. Liberty offers Patient Assistance Training (PAT) to drivers who choose to work with these special clients, many in wheel chairs, who often need special assistance.

“We have found that drivers who choose to take this training develop relationships with their clients. We hear them swap stories between one another about someone whose dog just had puppies, or who just had a new grandchild. We also get requests for particular drivers. We try to accommodate those relationships as best we can,” Wini said.

While the program is geared to those with limited income, anyone over 62 is qualified to apply. For more information about this program call 713-696-1991.


  Quotes from clients who are enrolled in the CDBG Non-Emergency Medical Program:

“I really appreciate the Harris County Transit Program because I have so many doctor appointments and no other way to get to them.”
Ms. Debra Bolton

“Before I signed up with the Harris County Transit Program, I was unable to get to my much needed medical appointments. The service is terrific.”
Mr. Barry Griffin

“Excellent, Excellent, and Excellent. Harris County Transit is A+.”
Ms. Ruth Pierce


Providing Help
  Magnolia Estates
Gives Ike Victim Time to Pause,
Reflect and Recover

At 56 years of age, Al Haskins is likely the youngest resident of Magnolia Estates, residential center for those over 55, in northeast Houston, built and managed by Harris County Housing Authority.

Haskins owns a home in Wallisville that was severely damaged by Hurricane Ike. Still he lived in the home, doing what repairs he could until FEMA declared it unlivable and told him to move out in August of 2009. With the federal Disaster Housing Assistance Program (D-HAP) funds, Haskins was able to find housing in Magnolia Estates where he has found a community of friends who gather nightly for dominoes.

“It’s so peaceful and quiet here; It’s really the best thing that’s happened to me since Hurricane Ike,” Haskins said.

In November of 2009, the economic storm hit Haskins. He was laid off from his job as a maintenance mechanic in a plastic plant. Haskins, who says he is filling out 20 applications a day, while making personal visits to WorkSource twice a week feels he is on the verge of getting a job. He has just finished a second interview as a maintenance mechanic at a pipe company, which he said went “very well.” Haskins expects to announce any day now that he’s employed again.

For more information about Magnolia Estates go to http://hchatexas.org/developments_prop8.html


Providing Help
Single Mom
  Just before Christmas, Tomeka McCardell had to sit her three children down and tell them that there won’t be much to open. Things were getting extremely tight as the effects of her recent job loss were setting in.

“I have never asked for assistance, so I called 2-1-1. They gave me a list of numbers of agencies who offered assistance. I called every one of them. The first one I was able to get into was Harris County Office of Social Services,” Tomeka said.

Because Tomeka had been employed and was actively seeking another job, she was a candidate for temporary help with her rent through a program called Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing, (HPRP). Tomeka feared she and her children would lose their apartment while she was looking for employment. As it turned out, Tomeka received several months of rental assistance before that magical day when she called her caseworker, Ursula Bell with the good news. She had found a job.

Even though the job pays less than her previous job, Tomeka is not discouraged. “It’s o.k. We just have to budget and be very careful about what we spend. I’m just so happy that I don’t have to move out,” Tomeka said.

In addition to working full time, Tomeka is taking classes at Houston Community College, which she hopes will better qualify her for future social work.

“My dream is to work with children. I think you can make the most difference there.”

Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing (HPRP) is funded through Stimulus Funds issued by the federal government following the economic recession. For more information about HPRP, click here for a downloadable brochure.


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