Health Department Surveys City's Poorest Areas

The City of Houston Health Department has launched a major survey of the needs of people who live in one of the city's poorest areas -- the east end. The goal is to show people where to go to get help. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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About 300 City Health Department employees and community volunteers are walking all over the east end this week. They're knocking on doors, speaking with people about their problems and needs and pointing them to the city department that can help them. Spokesman Porfirio Villareal says it's the ultimate in local government outreach.

"One of the things we're gonna do is try to evaluate and also improve their ability to manage their well being. So it's important that we go where they're at, where the people are at, and identify any needs that they have."

Villareal says they hope to contact at least 4,000 families in the Magnolia Park area over the next three days, and they'll do followup visits a month from now to see if those families were able to get their problem resolved.

"And this will help us also in the future. It's gonna help us provide those services. What services do we need to plan for two years from now, three years from now, ten years from now."

Magnolia Park is the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood south of the Houston Ship Channel, and bounded by 66th Street on the west, Harrisburg on the south and Broadway on the east. Villareal says the health department did the same kind of block walk last year north of the Ship Channel in the Clinton Park, Fidelity and Clinton View neighborhoods. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.

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