Connect Community Gulfton / Sharpstown

February 2019   Houston, TX

Client

  • Connect Community

Recognition

  • 2019 Advancing Diversity and Social Change, American Planning Association Texas Chapter

Asakura Robinson partners with a unique non-profit collaboration of community leaders in two Houston neighborhoods seeking to build healthier and more complete communities.

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Key Points

A community facilitated process for Houston's gateway for immigrants and refuges. Led by educators and health care providers, this plan took on the communities challenges head on.

Empowerment

The area has significant needs for immigrant and refugee services. The action plan hopes to equitably strengthen the community through providing workforce development, job training, and multilingual programs. A multicultural kitchen incubator will bolster restauranteurs in the area. Attaining and maintaining living-wage jobs, as well as developing quality affordable housing units, will prevent economic displacement.

Connectivity

The Impact Zone is bordered by highways and auto-dominated arterials that make the site unsafe for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. The action plan calls for safer street design to increase the area’s access to major destination, for all modes. Some recommendations include crosswalk enhancement with creative placemaking strategies.

Health

The action plan recommends enhancing green and public spaces, like pocket parks, green streets, and underutilized private spaces. Increasing residents’ access to health literacy and health insurance are needed, as well as upgrading the existing housing stock and enhancing amenities available with gardens, community rooms, laundry rooms, and gyms.


Connect Community and partners brought together over 70 organizations, neighborhood groups, and public agencies to strategize an action plan focused on advancing holistic revitalization and breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty in the Gulfton and Sharpstown neighborhoods of Houston. The four founding partners, KIPP Texas Public Schools, Legacy Community Health, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, and the YMCA of Greater Houston, formed the 501(c)3 non-profit organization “Connect Community” to address their community’s needs in housing quality and affordability, education and workforce development, health and wellness, and transportation access.

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Asakura Robinson conducted a data-driven gap analysis and developed specific metrics of improvement by gathering and analyzing demographic, economic, mobility, housing, health, and open space information. Community-led focus groups were set up to include voices that are often on the sideline — refugees, teens, and single parents. Community leaders identified and trained neighbors with cultural and language capacity to recruit participants and lead focus groups across eight languages for a qualitative understanding of strengths and challenges.


Connect Community has identified four priority projects for the initial two years that include: Pursuing enhanced mobility options to and from the area’s high-frequency transit network and destinations to enhance the safety and convenience of the first and last mile of trips; the development of a high-comfort bikeway on Westward and High Star streets that would connect numerous community services, schools, and the Hillcroft transit station; strengthening Gulfton-Sharpstown as a cultural-cuisine destination by bolstering restauranteurs in the area through a kitchen incubator program; and pursuing the re-design of a multicultural community center campus as the neighborhood’s signature public space at the southwest multi-service center with a park, mixed income housing and mixed use development, public parking, and connected to through a redesigned pedestrian realm and bikeway on High Star. As of 2019, three out of the four near-term priority projects are underway.

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Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts January 2019   Houston, TX