HOUSTON, Oct. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) along with its lead community partners from Avenue CDC in Northside and Independence Heights Redevelopment Council (IHRC) in Independence Heights will today present neighborhood revitalization plans to Mayor Annise Parker during an event focused on creating a healthier future for both areas. These comprehensive plans focus on:
- Rebuilding physical infrastructure and developing housing,
- Stimulating economic development,
- Creating jobs,
- Improving youth and educational prospects, and
- Boosting community safety and other related efforts that promote growth and opportunities for residents.
The plans flow from LISC's Great Opportunity Neighborhoods initiative (GO Neighborhoods), a revitalization blueprint that identifies and supports community-based agencies as they convene local stakeholders, develop complete Quality of Life plans and pursue the high-impact projects and programs needed to implement those plans. The goal is to help neighborhoods long overwhelmed by economic and social decline become good places to live, work, do business and raise families.
Early action projects have already been underway in both communities and include crime prevention workshops and local leadership training as well as home repair outreach, wellness programs and community cleanup/beautification efforts.
"We couldn't be more pleased to have the support of the city and other partners for this important work," noted Amanda Timm, executive director of Houston LISC, which has invested $32 million in Houston communities over the last 20 years. "Our GO Neighborhoods initiative is focused on the five keys to what we call 'sustainable communities'—safe, vibrant places of hope and opportunity for people of any economic stratum," she said. Key program supporters to date include: United Way of Greater Houston; Houston Endowment, Inc.; JPMorgan Chase Foundation; and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"Historically, community development efforts have focused almost entirely on the physical redevelopment of blighted areas. Clearly, that is critical and has been a key to stabilizing many neighborhoods," she stressed. "But, it isn't enough, not if our goal is to help low-income families make fundamental, lasting changes in their standards of living, not if we hope to make sure all our communities can contribute to the economic health of our city and the long-term well-being of everyone who lives here. That takes much more than bricks and mortar. GO Neighborhoods is part of that next generation of community development."
More specifically, GO Neighborhoods, which is part of LISC's national Building Sustainable Communities agenda, focuses not only on the development of affordable housing and other real estate, but also on access to quality education, family income and asset building, healthy lifestyles and environments, and economic development. LISC provides management and technical assistance, as well as grants, loans and equity investments to support the plans of its targeted communities.
Mary Lawler, Executive Director of Avenue CDC comments that, "Sustainable Communities encompass everything from safe streets and after-school programs to financial literacy, job training, revitalized parks and playgrounds, and neighborhood grocery stores to replace food deserts – neighborhoods without access to fresh food."
In Northside, for instance, Avenue CDC is organizing local partners around strategies focused on a whole range of issues, including economic mobility, health, local arts, housing and education.
Independence Heights is focused on many of the same issues, including local infrastructure, safety, social services, and youth, but from the particular perspective of the people who live and work there. "Our residents and stakeholders are passionate about Independence Heights and its future. GO Neighborhoods has offered us the chance to engage our residents in creating the vision for our neighborhood's future," explains Tanya Debose of Independence Heights Redevelopment Council.
Some parts of LISC's GO Neighborhoods plan are already moving forward. In the Northside, for instance, LISC is supporting a new Financial Opportunity Center, a strategic partnership with United Way THRIVE, which focuses on financial literacy, employment and public benefits access for low income families in the area. LISC's national Financial Opportunity Center program was recently recognized by the Obama Administration as among the most creative in the country. It was among the inaugural group of programs to be awarded grants from the new federal Social Innovation Fund.
"It is the first center in Houston, but not the last," Timm said. "It represents what GO Neighborhoods is all about—driving forward-looking programs that arm families and communities with the tools they need to build a strong, successful future."
LISC combines corporate, government and philanthropic resources to help nonprofit community development corporations revitalize distressed neighborhoods. Since 1980, LISC has raised more than $9.7 billion to build or rehab more than 271,000 affordable homes and develop 40 million square feet of retail, community and educational space nationwide. LISC support has leveraged $31.1 billion in total development activity. LISC Houston is a United Way agency that has served Houston for more than 20 years. For more information, visit www.lisc.org.
SOURCE Local Initiatives Support Corporation