There’s a billion-dollar project going on in our backyard. The name of the project is called the East River Project. The private developer is Midway. The private developer is seeking $133 million public dollars from our community board named TIRZ 18 (TAX INCREMENT REINVESTMENT ZONE). This investment from TIRZ18 will allow the public to have a voice on the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). We as a community should have a voice on what we would like to see transpire for our community.
The Circle Coalition would like to see things that should be policy instead of a simple suggestion be applied to the CBA. Affordable housing is one of the biggest concerns that should be on the CBA. To enable existing residents who are low-income homeowners and renters to remain in these areas, there must be affordable housing options. There are other ways to help people stay rooted in their communities: provide renters with the opportunity and financing to purchase their units; preserve and expand public housing; protect elderly and long-term residents from property tax increases; enforce building codes and offer easy options for renters to report bad landlords; negotiate payment plans with homeowners who have fallen behind on their property taxes; establish this in a community benefits agreements with investors in large projects to ensure that local residents benefit from the investment; offer developers higher levels of density in return for funding more affordable housing units in their projects; establish a loan fund to help small business owners buy their buildings.
There should be a resource center available in the community that is open on seven days a week so that the working families may enjoy them as well. The resource center should have space for kids of all ages, a place where they can learn how to socialize with one another, technology, art, and science. This resource center should be suitable for the elders as well. We believe if we had an outlet a place to get to know one another and embrace the culture that has always been in Fifth Ward which is one of village people our community will be a healthier environment to live in. If we create a space for the old and new residents to connect this will assist with the crime rate decreasing in the area. If you know who you live next to you become more likely to look out for one another instead of ignoring each other. A community center would truly encourage all to erase the dived that we currently feel today.
The CBA should also include a grocery store that can hold more than three days of food for the community if tragedy strikes. This doesn’t have to be a huge food chain grocery store. Our neighborhood has been a food desert for over 30 years. These are simple solutions that will create a huge change in the lives that are present there today and for those to follow.
OAF’s motto is EACH ONE TEACH ONE! When we learned a few things about how our neighborhood works we decided to teach what we have learned so far. We will look forward to learning as much as possible to teach others and hopefully inspire others to get involved with the community. Our neighborhood has a non-profit organization that has been in our community for 30 years called Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Center. Then we have TIRZ18 (TAX INCREMENT REINVESTMENT ZONE) you may confirm board members on City of Houston website. The TIRZ18 makes decision for Fifth Ward’s tax dollars. The TIRZ 18 members are appointed by the mayor. The TIRZ 18 currently has a Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) draft with Midway (private developer) for EAST RIVER PROJECT that they’re not willing to show anyone in the community at the present time. This bothered me, so I researched to understand how a community agreement draft could be created without the community’s involvement especially since no one ever knew about these two boards. Please contact OAF 713-876-9129 if you would be interested in joining the Circle Coalition