Houston

New initiative hopes to address Houston Council District B’s lack of opportunities, resources

The program is focusing on five challenges within District B: workforce development, public safety, community capacity building, economic development, and the quality of life.

Ashley Brown / Houston Public Media
Councilmember Tarsha Jackson (center) and her team.

Houston City Council Member Tarsha Jackson announced on Thursday the Besuccessful Community Capacity Building Initiative that addresses poverty and public safety within District B.

The initiative will offer job training and wraparound services to residents in her district to help improve their quality of life.

Besuccessful is focusing on five challenges within District B: workforce development, public safety, community capacity building, economic development, and the quality of life.

One way the initiative will provide residents with job opportunities is by hiring and training 25 Community Resources Navigators that will connect residents to job training, education opportunities, and other resources. Each organization will host two readiness workshops per month and host 10 Besuccessful job fairs with rotating locations.

Jackson was joined by Mayor Sylvester Turner, METRO, and Lone Star College.

District B covers North Houston which includes neighborhoods like Kashmere Gardens, Acres Homes, Fifth Ward, Greenspoint and many others. District B consists of 195,000 residents, mostly Black and Hispanic, who earn less than $25,000 a year.

"That’s like $12 an hour; you cannot sustain and raise a family on that income," said Council member Tarsha Jackson.

She said the biggest problem preventing residents of District B from improving their lives is the lack of opportunities.

"The best way to help our community thrive is to help people get into some good paying jobs so that they can raise their families, strengthen the community organizations that are already working with our communities, and most of all, connect our youth to mentors that actually understand them," she said.

According to the U.S. Census Data, 31% of the residents have no high school diploma, 34% have a high school diploma, 25% have some college, and 10% have a bachelor’s degree.

Mayor Turner says the lack of opportunities is stopping residents in District B from thriving.

“They need to live in a community where their economic opportunities exist, where they are safe, where the kids have quality of life like parks and other green space.”

The 5-year initiative will require $27 million in funding, and will have to be raised through grants or private funds and partnerships. The city has already approved $2.5 million of ARPA funds for the credible messengers program which falls under Mayor Sylvester Turner's One Safe Houston Initiative.

Credible Messengers is a way to reduce crime in District B. The program hires 25 people who will mentor at-risk youth. Credible Messengers are leaders who have been involved with the justice system and have since transformed their lives for the better.

Jeremy Craft, Credible Messenger Administrator for the Besuccessful Initiative, says he has overcome many challenges. He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon at the age of 12 and spent five years on probation.

"During that time, and along my journey, there were many people who gave up on me,” he said. "However there were a select few individuals, whether they were mentors, teachers, professors, and even some of my peers who didn't give up on me."

Craft said having people in his corner that believed in him is the reason for his success today and why it's important to not give up on the youth.

"We want to make sure we give youth the opportunities," he said. "I just want to make sure we continue to support our youth so they can be successful."

Craft managed to receive scholarships, internships, work on billion dollar projects and has a business named BlackBookHouston with his wife.

Council member Jackson is also putting efforts towards fixing the infrastructure within District B by revitalizing abandoned buildings, putting grocery stores in the area, and rehabilitating parks. District B is considered a Food Desert by the USDA.

"My vision for District B is centered on building healthy communities where our families can thrive, where everyone has what they need to live freely and fully,"she said.

The BeSuccesful has a goal to provide 600 residents with jobs and wrap around services within its first year. The Initiative launches this Saturday October 1, with a job fair at HCC North Forest.

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required