Pride of Gulfton: Service Center Opens on Southwest Side

Set in the middle of one of the city's most underserved neighborhoods, a new 25,000 square foot multi-service center is now open after more than a decade of promises and planning. As Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports, the facility consolidates a number of different social service providers under one roof.

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In the Gulfton neighborhood on Houston's southwest side, things have never been easy, with a high crime rate and an even higher level of poverty. But Gulfton's prospects just improved a little with the new $4.1 million Southwest Multi-Service Center, a shining jewel in an area that needs all the help it can get. Houston city councilman M.J. Khan says it's about time after years of delays.

"I always used to say that District F stands for forgotten district, but not anymore. Under Bill White, it has not been forgotten district. Mayor White took over in 2004 and within three years this project got a CIP, got funded, got designed, got constructed and here we are opening this facility today."

The multi-service center officially opened last month and combines a number of resources in one place, which simplifies the process for many of the clients who use it. Stephen Williams is the director of the Houston Department of Health and Human Services.

"This center has been in the plans for the last 13, 14 years and as a city, we're finally able to deliver. What we're wanting is for people not to have to make multiple trips to seek services within this community."

The biggest and busiest tenant at the new facility is the WIC program, which provides food and nutritional counseling for low income women, infants and children. The program's Jan Brown says WIC expects to serve 9000 people a month at the new service center.

"This space is wonderful. For us it means an opportunity to get our clinic flow right and be able to serve clients more efficiently. For the clients it means a facility that's clean and neat and something to be proud of."

One of the providers at the facility is Neighborhood Centers Inc., an organization that offers an array of services for mostly immigrant families in Houston. This is NCI's Walter Jones.

"This community is now well over 25 years old in Houston and it was not designed for the population that's in Houston now and the purpose of a multi-service center and a community center is to respond to the changing needs and characteristics of communities."

The multi-service center will also provide meeting rooms for local organizations and will eventually be home to an e-library where members of the community can do research and have access to a computer lab.

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