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December 2021 Newsletter
Congratulations to the Inaugural Class of
Complete Communities University
Twenty-three aspiring civic leaders from eight City Council districts celebrated the completion of Complete Communities University leadership training at a graduation ceremony held on Dec. 1 at the Houston Public Library Barbara Bush Literary Plaza.

The graduates completed an eight-week leadership training course designed to empower civic leaders and promote civic action in Houston neighborhoods. They represent new and emerging leadership in City Council Districts A, B, C, D, F, G, H, and I, including Mayor’s Sylvester Turner’s Complete Communities of Alief, Near Northside, Magnolia, Kashmere, and Sunnyside.

The course sessions are conducted online, and the course is offered on quarterly basis. The winter 2022 session will run from March 2 to April 20, 2022. Complete Communities University's mission is to coach emerging leaders on civic engagement methods and techniques, cultivate a positive relationship between the City of Houston and community leaders, and promote the participation of residents in civic activities to help vitalize neighborhoods.

The application deadline is Friday, February 11, 2022. To apply, go to www.houstontx.gov/neighborhoods and click on Complete Communities University. 

Complete Communities University
Class of Fall 2021 Graduates

Luis Adame, District C
Angel Akins, District G
Debbie Allen, District B
Arlinda Arriaga, District H
Ricky Cardenas, District H
Isaac Eguia, District F
Daniella Flanagan, District B
Maria Franco, District I
Gustavo Garcia, District C
Tadeo Huerta, District C
Eric Hudson-Thomas, District B
Trévoir Hudson-Thomas, District B
Adiaha Itauma, District F
Robert Jackson, District F
Shay Jones, District H
Catherine Kocses, District A
Melissa Kyle, District C
Virginia Lambert, District A
Sarah Mallams, District I
Hannah Mannion, District A
Edidiong Obot, District F
Stephanie Rogers, District C
Jessica Shittu, District D.

Read the complete news release.
Mercato Pilot Program Enhances Grocery Options For Residents, Grocers in Underserved Neighborhoods
In November, Houston City Council approved Mercato, Inc. for a pilot program to connect residents in underserved neighborhoods with their local grocery and specialty food markets by using eCommerce and subsidized delivery options. Through this partnership, led by Houston’s Housing and Community Development Department (HCDD) and the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, dozens of stores across the city will begin offering their inventory online and via local delivery.

The pilot program, in phase 1, will allow up to 40 Houston grocers to use Mercato’s platform at a substantially discounted rate. Independent grocers interested in learning more can apply online.

Phase 2 of the pilot program is, expected to launch in early 2022, will allow HCDD to provide 1,000 households with a no-cost Mercato Green subscription for one year. The Mercato Green subscription will allow eligible customers to receive unlimited, free grocery delivery within a five-mile radius of their home. Details on qualification criteria and application processes for customers will be announced later this year.
Funding to support both grocers’ and consumers’ subscriptions will be provided through Community Development Block Grant Economic Development (CDBG-ECD) funding, provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“We are excited to build the capacity of our neighborhood grocery stores using Mercato's eCommerce platform. Local stores in underserved neighborhoods like our Complete Communities often do not have the resources to introduce innovations like online ordering and delivery. With the ongoing pandemic, small stores are facing greater resource challenges, and residents in underserved neighborhoods are facing food insecurity. This partnership with Mercato serves both residents and grocers by keeping the resources in their neighborhoods, helping independent food stores compete with larger chains and bringing residents greater access to healthy meals."
- Mayor Sylvester Turner
Near Northside Celebrates Love Our Parks Program Improvements to Henderson Park
Mayor Sylvester Turner, the Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities, and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department hosted a Love Our Parks Fest to celebrate improvements to Near Northside's Earl Henderson Park, located at 4250 Elysian.
The improvements at Earl Henderson Park include new seating, sidewalk upgrades, a new pavilion roof, new BBQ grills, and new lighting, with new playground equipment coming soon. The park’s basketball court was revived featuring public art by muralist Gelson Lemus, courtesy of Cheniere Energy, which has donated over $180,000 to the Houston Parks and Recreation Department for the Love Our Parks Complete Communities Initiative.
Mark your calendar for the last Love Our Parks Fest on Dec. 18 in Delce Park in Kashmere Gardens.

Read the complete news release.

“I know what safe, well-maintained parks mean to a community, and I want families to love their neighborhood park. I commend the Parks Department for working tirelessly to carry out my mission, and I thank the dedicated staffers and partners like Cheniere Energy who worked to upgrade Henderson Park. I am proud of what we have accomplished together."
-Mayor Sylvester Turner
Houston Mourns Loss of Third Ward Leader Kirk Jackson
The Houston community is feeling the deep void left by the passing of Kirk Jackson a Complete Communities stakeholder; Third Ward neighbor; and active volunteer with Emancipation Economic Development Council, Blodgett Urban Gardens, and Healthy Outdoor Communities. Our thoughts are with Kirk's family and friends. He will truly be missed.
Community leaders expressed heartfelt and fond memories about Kirk:
District D and the city of Houston mourns the loss of long time third ward resident Kirk Jackson. Kirk knew no strangers and was always ready and willing to help others. He graduated from Prairie View A&M University and then Texas Southern University with a master’s degree in Urban Planning and Environmental Policy. He was an active leader and volunteer with the Healthy Outdoor Communities and the Emancipation Economic Development Council. His pride and joy was his involvement with the Blodgett Urban Market which provides fresh fruit and vegetables to address food insecurity and promotes a healthy lifestyle in the middle of third ward. He was also a devoted member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Kirk’s name is synonymous with service and he will be sorely missed.” – District D Council Member Carolyn Evans-Shabazz
“Thank you, Kirk, for always being true, direct and dedicated to Third Ward. His family is in our prayers.” - Emancipation Economic Development Council 
“Kirk Jackson was a passionate champion for the Third Ward community, particularly when it came to fighting food insecurity and promoting park and nature equity for this and future generations. His value and laugh will be greatly missed. We love you, Kirk.” - Healthy Outdoor Communities  
“More than anyone in Third Ward, I could trust him to be honest and straightforward about neighborhood issues, never letting politics cloud his judgement on how to serve the best interest of the residents. He pushed me to be a better community advocate. His passing has left a large void in the community. I’ll miss you Kirk.”
- Ed Pettitt, Third Ward Complete Communities volunteer
Complete Communities Bids Fond Farewell to
Acres Home, Third Ward Planner Sasha Marshall Smith
The Complete Communities staff wishes Sasha Marshall Smith all the best as she departs the City of Houston to join the Houston Housing Authority (HHA). Marshall Smith served as lead planner for the Acres Home and Third Ward communities.

She will continue to work in Third Ward as the Houston Housing Authority Revitalization Planning Program Manager staffing the Cuney Homes Choice Neighborhood Plan. Congratulations on your new job, Sasha!

In the interim, Jennifer Ostlind and Eriq Glenn will serve as contacts for Acres Home and Lynn Henson and Bennie Chambers will serve as contacts for Third Ward.
Health Department Offers Multiple COVID
Vaccine Locations for Children 5 and Older
Children as young as five can get vaccinated against COVID-19 at Houston Health Department vaccination sites. Free vaccinations are available at the department’s health centers, some multi-service centers, and pop-up sites across Houston. The sites do not require appointments or insurance.

Getting children vaccinated will help protect them from getting COVID-19 and reduce their risk of severe disease, hospitalizations, or developing long-term COVID-19 complications. The CDC authorized Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 following FDA evaluation of clinical trial data demonstrating the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness for the age group. Data shows the vaccine is over 90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 in children ages 5-11. Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine is one-third the size of the adult dosage and administered in two shots given least three weeks apart.

Vaccination of children at health department sites requires parental consent given at the time of vaccination. The department’s pop-up sites frequently include schools and the department will expand school partnerships for the rollout of the vaccine for the 5-11 age group. Visit houstonhealth.org or call 832-393-4220 to find a nearby free vaccination site or schedule an appointment.
Get Festive at Mayor's Holiday Spectacular on Dec. 4
Mayor Sylvester Turner and Reliant will kick off the holiday season at the 102nd Reliant Lights Mayor’s Holiday Spectacular. The public is invited to Hermann Square in front of City Hall on Saturday, Dec. 4 from 5 – 8 p.m. for a FREE event perfect for the entire family. The event will also be LIVE Streamed on ABC13 Digital Platforms.

The Reliant Lights Mayor’s Holiday Spectacular will ring in the Holiday season with live music and the lighting of the official holiday tree. Santa Claus will be available for free photos with children in The Gingerbread Village, along with seasonal food and beverages for purchase. The public is invited to be part of the World’s Ultimate Toy Drive benefiting Toys for Tots by bringing a new, unwrapped toy to the event. 

Come celebrate and enjoy performances by headliner Taylor Dayne, as well as Shelby Nunn, Carley Nunn, DeAndre Nico, the Carver Aldine Dance Co., The Houston Contemporary Dance Co., Kaminari Taiko Drums, Parker Elementary Suzuki Academy, the Salvation Army Brass Band.
Healthy Outdoor Communities Seeks Community Engagement Liaisons in Acres Home and Third Ward
Part-time positions are available for Acres Home and Third Ward residents with a passion for shaping the future of parks and green spaces. Healthy Outdoor Communities will provide Community Engagement Liaisons with a $400 a month stipend. To apply, email a letter of interest to HOC@neoproject.org
Relaunched Portal Helps Residents Explore Health Status of Their Communities
Residents can use the Houston State of Health interactive portal to learn more about local health data, demographics, resources, best practices, news articles, and information about community events in Houston and Harris County.

The Houston Health Department has relaunched Houston State of Health interactive portal to help residents learn and explore the health status of their communities. This portal allows user to research public health indicators affecting their quality of life. Users can also contribute information and ideas to highlight programs and successes of local, state, and national health departments.
Added Benefits Program for Parents of Young
Children Ends December 31
Just in time for the holidays, eligible Harris County families can purchase more fruits and vegetables for their dinner table through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). 
WIC clients must visit a WIC office to receive the following additional monthly benefits:
  • Pregnant, postpartum and some breastfeeding: $43
  • Fully and partially breastfeeding clients: $47
  • Children: $24
This additional funding for the temporarily increased benefits was made possible by the U.S. Congress. In January 2022, the benefits will return to their original amount of $11 for pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women and $9 for children ages one to five years old.
Texas Southern University Offers Free Environmental Job Training Program 
Houston residents are invited to apply for career training in the Environmental Career Worker Training Program (ECWTP) for environmental professions. Texas Southern University (TSU) offers 12-week courses in basic construction, weatherization, asbestos and lead abatement, and hazardous waste clean-up. Upon completion of the program, participants will receive certification and will receive assistance with job placement.
The ECWTP is designed to train unemployed and/or underemployed individuals in the Houston area. This training is free and provided at TSU and other selected sites. To submit an application, visit www.tsu.edu/ecwtp. For more information, contact Bertina Carter at 713-313-1406 or via email at bertina.carter@tsu.edu
Houston Land Bank Offers Affordable Homes
The Houston Land Bank (HLB) turns tax delinquent properties into quality and affordable homes for eligible homebuyers in the Acres Home neighborhood. Currently, there are seven HLB homes for sale in Acres Home and more are coming on the market soon. Sales prices range from $190,000 to $201,000. Check out the inventory.
You must meet the following requirements to qualify to purchase a home through the Houston Land Bank:

  • Gross household income cannot exceed 80% AMI
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or Permanent Alien
  • Must qualify for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage for the purchase price
  • Complete an eight-hour HUD approved Homebuyer Education Course
  • The HLB home must be the primary residence
Some homebuyers may also qualify for homebuyer assistance to keep property taxes from rising too quickly.
The Houston Land bank is working closely with partners like the City of Houston, Houston Community Land Trust, and private and non-profit developers to help residents residents in historically under served communities buy affordable homes and transform their neighborhoods. For more information visit the Houston Land Bank website
Drive through the Winter Wonderland Food Fair to enjoy fresh produce, other goodies and more! Visit the food fair from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4 at LeRoy Crump Stadium located at 12321 High Star Drive. Sign up to volunteer.
Mothers of the Park:
Day of Service and Literature Project
Volunteers recently gathered at Burnett Bayland Park to pick up trash and clean the community garden. Kids also joined the fun by participating in a reading circle with music and art. COVID-19 vaccines were also available on site.  

Partners for the event included: The Museum of Fine Arts, Good Reason Houston, YMCA, Harris County Public Library, Harris County Health, and Baker Ripley.
HOT Team Keeps District J Clean
The HOT team conducts illegal dumping pickups in Gulfton on the second Thursday of each month. Residents are strongly encouraged to call 311 to report illegally dumped debris, tree waste, and heavy trash. 
Gulfton Super Neighborhood Council
will meet on Monday, Dec. 13 at noon
For zoom link contact:
Sandra Rodríguez, President 
(832) 875-0179  
Kashmere Gardens
Community Resilience Hub Will Help Kashmere Gardens Recover From Emergencies
How can Kashmere Gardens become more resilient to shocks and stresses such as extreme heat, cold weather, intense flooding, and power outages?
Provide your feedback on what resiliency features you would like to see in the Kashmere Gardens Community Input Survey. This survey is available in both English and Spanish.
In partnership with the Northeast Houston Redevelopment Council and Resilient Cities Catalyst, the City of Houston is working to implement a Community Resilience Hub, also called a Lily Pad, in Kashmere Gardens.
A Lily Pad is a physical space for residents to gather and obtain necessary
services and it can also serve as a resource connector during emergencies.
City of Houston Planner, Davonte Caldwell, talking with a Kashmere Gardens Elementary School student at the recent Harvest Fest. The student provided feedback on how a lily pad could best service the community.
While the Lily Pad may be located in Kashmere Gardens, it also intends to serve residents living in Fifth Ward, Trinity Houston Gardens, Denver Harbor and surrounding areas.
Resident Feedback is Needed to Improve Sidewalks
Take the Resilient Sidewalks Survey to let the City of Houston know how to improve sidewalks in Kashmere Gardens.
Complete Communities and the Kashmere Gardens Super Neighborhood Council are engaging residents to discuss existing sidewalk conditions. Potential goals for this project include sidewalk repair and installation and improving flooding and drainage issues.
Based on the community feedback, analysis, and best practices in roadway safety and design, the information will help define a plan for improving sidewalks in the neighborhood.
Complete the survey and share your email address to be automatically entered in a gift card raffle to a local restaurant. Up to four survey respondents will be selected as winners.

For question or comments, contact the project team at buildforward@houstontx.gov. For more information, visit the Engage Houston website. 
UpArt Studio Improves the View at Sims Bayou
Enjoy the view while taking a stroll or a bike ride along the Sims Bayou trail at South Post Oak Rd. This new mural is courtesy of UPArt Studio. 
Hiram Clarke Receives Bus Stop & Walkway Upgrades 
Through a partnership with South Post Oak Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 9/Redevelopment Authority, the Five Corners Management District, Houston Parks Board, and METRO, improvements to bus shelters and pedestrian walkways are coming to three METRO bus stops along Hiram Clarke Road. 
The project will provide custom bus shelters and pad upgrades, crosswalk improvements, and way-finding and regulatory signage at bus stops on the west side of Hiram Clarke at Brookston Street, Tidewater Drive and Beran Drive near a hike and bike trail.

Sidewalk improvements were made with Council District Service Funding provided by District K’s Vice Mayor Pro Tem Martha Castex-Tatum. Damaged sidewalk stretching from 7015 to 7023 on Thornwild Road was recently repaired.
Please review the Livable Center Study web page to stay informed about upcoming project meetings, visit the Livable Centers Study.
For more information visit the City of Houston District K webpage.
Fort Bend Houston Super Neighborhood Council  
Meets every second Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m.
For meeting information contact:
Troy Carter, President
December Complete Communities Meeting Provides Listening Session for Hidalgo Park 
Make plans to attend a community listening session about Hidalgo Park to provide your input on future improvements for the park! The listening session will take place during the Manchester-Magnolia Park Complete Communities Meeting at 6 p.m. on Dec. 16. RSVP to attend this meeting.
The listening session is part of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s 50/50 Park Partners initiative. 50/50 Park Partners is a mayoral initiative led by the City of Houston, Houston Parks Board, Houston Parks, and Recreation Department, and Greater Houston Partnership to improve 50 neighborhood parks. To learn more visit the 50/50 Park Partners initiative visit the Houston Parks and Recreation Department website.
Near Northside
Safety Improvements Needed to Limit Traffic Crashes
on Irvington Boulevard 
In response to the high number of severe traffic crashes on Irvington Blvd., Houston Public Works is in the early stages of planning a street safety improvement project for this corridor. As part of the Houston Vision Zero Action Plan, your feedback is needed to define

what safe streets mean to the Near Northside neighborhood.

Houston is a Vision Zero city with a commitment to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030, and create safe, equitable, accessible streets for all users.

No loss of life by traffic crash is acceptable. Contact us at mobility@houstontx.gov to give input on how to prevent people from dying on Houston streets. Updates, materials, and announcements about upcoming meetings are posted at www.letstalkhouston.org/vision-zero.
108-Year-Old Houston Home Gets Revitalized
A three-generation family home in Second Ward recently received home repair assistance thanks to the efforts of volunteers and Rebuilding Houston Together. Rebuilding Houston Together is a nonprofit aimed at homeowner revitalization and repair services including structure stabilization, flooring repair, and siding replacement.
Second Ward and Manchester/Magnolia Park low-income residents in good tax standing can apply for no-cost repairs. Visit the website at rebuildinghouston.org
for more information.
Two Houston Artists Selected to Commission Works For New Sunnyside Multi-Service Center
The City of Houston Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) announced the selection of two local artists whose work will become an integral part of the new Sunnyside Health and Multi-Service Center. Creative concepts from Houston-based visual artists Jesse Lott and Irene Antonia Diane Reece were selected out of more than 92 artists and artists groups for commissioning and will debut with the opening of the new facility.

"Our city's multi-service centers provide social services for communities in Houston and address the needs and well-being of multiple generations – from our elders to our young mothers and their children," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "Having artwork that captures the unique character of our local communities and the richness of our histories and cultures will make our multi-service centers feel like an extension of home."

Houston renowned artist Jesse Lott, a long-time Fifth Ward resident, and recently named Texas State three-dimensional artist for 2022, will create The Dreamcatcher, a sculpture to be installed on the exterior of the center. The community will have a hand in deciding key elements of this work.
"The voices of local residents will help guide the central imagery of the sculpture—whether it's a sun, a family, or another element that encompasses the spirit of Sunnyside," said Lott. "The community will also be engaged to source materials that are authentic to the neighborhood for incorporation into The Dreamcatcher."

Native Houstonian, contemporary artist, and visual activist Reece will produce That Sunnyside Pride, a collection of original photographs to be featured in the interior public entrance of the center. Reece plans to invite the community to be a part of the photography selection process to ensure historical and present-day attributes of Sunnyside are represented.

"It's important that this body of work showcases every aspect of [Sunnyside's] authenticity," said Reece. "I want to include and uplift the community's multi-generational voices by featuring the families, community leaders, and historical sites that makeup Sunnyside."

Operated by the Houston Health Department, the Center will provide social services, including educational and technology resources, access to healthy nutrition, senior services, and more.
Dumpstoppers Clean Up by Sunnyside Neighborhood Taskforce Was a Huge Success
The resident-led Sunnyside Neighborhood Taskforce cleaned up Cloverand Park, Worthing High School and surrounding area, and the Scott St. and I-610 intersection. This project was funded by a Houston LISC grant award to Mel Young of Young Community and Culture Group.
The Sunnyside community thanks the over 100 resident leaders, students, and neighborhood stakeholders, the Sunnyside Complete Communities Initiative, District D Councilmember Carolynn Evans Shabazz and staff, the Precinct One team, Worthing High School, and the Houston Parks Board for completing these massive tasks!
Get Fit Physically and Financially with the
Emancipation Park Conservancy 
Hip-Hop and fitness fans can enjoy Gretchen Jean’s one hour of intense step aerobics at 6 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday at Emancipation Park. Register to attend the weekly class.
Don’t miss health and wellness coach Tia Alexander’s fitness and healthy eating virtual demonstration on Tuesdays. This weekly fitness initiative encourages viewers to engage in daily physical activity from the comfort of home and with the entire family. We invite you to view the video series.
Attend Emancipation Park Conservancy’s Bridging the Gap Financial Literacy Program at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 7. This Credit 101 class will teach the importance of establishing and maintaining credit when purchasing a home, car, financing education, or
other major transactions. Visit the Emancipation Park Conservancy website for more details.
Change Happens ACA Navigator Program Helps Connect Residents to Health Insurance
Change Happens can assist uninsured and under insured individuals and families to apply, renew, or change health coverage under the Marketplace Health Insurance plan. Open enrollment ends on Jan. 15, 2022. Plans selected by Dec. 15 will begin Jan. 1, 2022.
Call 1-844-374-1200 or 713-374-1282 or email Navigator@changehappenstx.org to get started. For health insurance resources, visit the Kaiser Family Foundation or Every Texan websites.  
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