December 10, 2020 -- This week, Houston City Council passed a motion of support for action plans for the Phase 2 Complete Communities – Alief-Westwood, Fort Bend Houston, Kashmere Gardens, Magnolia Park-Manchester and Sunnyside.
The plans demonstrate the depth of community involvement and reflect the insights, values, and visions of community stakeholders and represent numerous opportunities for private investment and public private partnerships.
In this second stage of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s vision to create transformational change in under-served and under-resourced Houston neighborhoods, the Planning and Development Department organized a resident-led community engagement process to build the five comprehensive action plans that set a roadmap for future projects.
“The communities have spoken, and we have listened,” Mayor Turner said. “Now that we have plans in place, the work is just beginning. The next steps open up opportunities for public sector funding, such as Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, philanthropy and private sector investment.”
In 2017, Mayor Turner announced the first phase of the Complete Communities initiative, calling for collaboration across 23 City departments to provide support and work side-by-side with the pilot communities: Acres Homes, Second Ward, Third Ward, Gulfton and Near Northside. The City continues to work in all neighborhoods regardless of development patterns, demographics, socio-economic conditions or the strength of civic organizations.
Two years later, Mayor Turner launched the Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities, appointed its first director, and announced the addition of five new Complete Communities: Alief-Westwood, Fort Bend Houston, Kashmere Gardens, Magnolia Park-Manchester and Sunnyside.
A Neighborhood Support Team, comprised of locally identified leaders, residents and allies, guided each Complete Community effort. Topic areas include civic engagement, economy and jobs, education, health, housing, mobility and infrastructure, neighborhood character, parks and community amenities, and safety. Many of the action items intersect with goals outlined in other City of Houston plans including Resilient Houston, Vision Zero, Climate Action Plan and 50/50 Park Partners.
The Greater Houston Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, administers and accepts charitable donations to the Complete Communities Improvement Fund in coordination with the Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities.
“Complete Communities is strengthened by public-private partnerships built to create solutions within, for and by the community in an environment with limited discretionary public funds,” said Complete Communities Director Shannon Buggs.
During the development of the action plans, the planning department provided professional planning, coordination, and advocacy services that generated 23 community-wide meetings and drew participation from 2,400 stakeholders. An additional 1,515 people participated in the extended engagement through online surveys, virtual meetings, and website activities.
The Complete Communities planning process was interrupted by COVID–19, but community engagement was converted to a virtual format to protect the health and safety of residents and stakeholders. The Planning and Development Department also introduced an online engagement platform LetsTalkHouston.org, where visitors could leave comments, ask questions, take surveys and review draft action plans.
The Mayor’s Health Equity Response (H.E.R.) Task Force, established in April 2020, created engagement opportunities to assess community needs and implement COVID-19-relief strategies in all 10 Complete Communities. Those actions and goals are documented in the plans.
Project-specific working groups have emerged to accomplish each of the goals identified in the Complete Communities Action Plans. Planning and Development will continue to work jointly with the Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities on public engagement efforts and to share project implementation updates.
“Our communities can truly take ownership of these action plans because they are a direct record of needs and priorities expressed by the people who live and work there,” said Planning and Development Director Margaret Wallace Brown. “And it’s not over. We will continue to need your support and involvement in working groups as we move forward to implementing the actions in the plans.”
View the Complete Communities Actions Plans and subscribe to the Complete Communities newsletter for regular updates. Find upcoming meeting information on LetsTalkHouston.org. To make philanthropic donations to the Complete Communities Improvement Fund, contact Shannon Buggs in the Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities at firstname.lastname@example.org.