A $27,000 grant awarded to the Urban Land Institute is helping the Harris County Public Health Department identify and help improve housing health issues for those in Houston’s Settegast neighborhood.
The historically Black community is located in Houston's northeast side. Elizabeth Van Horn of Harris County Public Health said the Urban Land Institute has been working with the residents through focus groups.
“[ULI Houston] hired a couple of community ambassadors to help serve as liaisons and help us understand the needs and health concerns of residents," Van Horn said. "And we’ve also had a couple of larger scale workshops."
In 1966, the City of Houston conducted a survey called "The Settegast Report." Results from the report suggested sewer trunk lines in the neighborhood, plus Union Pacific's Settegast Yard, McCarty Road Landfill Gas Recovery Facility, and Magellan’s East Houston terminal, which is a crude oil trading hub, all contribute to Settegast's health equity.
Van Horn said while the report highlights some changes that came out of the grassroots community organizing at the time, but there are still issues that persist.
"But there’s clearly the drainage issues, that was something that residents talked about in 1966, and it’s still happening now," Van Horn said. "There were health concerns that were reported in the 1966 report. There are still health concerns now."
Highlighting those history of inequities and focusing on addressing past harms is what ULI Houston, Harris County Public Health, The Kinder Institute for Urban Research and the Houston Land Bank are all working towards to help identify what needs to be fixed.
Residents of Settegast live in a food desert with unhealthy food options flooding the area. In addition, there are only a handful of doctors or pharmacies in Settegast. Van Horn says gentrification and displacement weigh heavily on the minds of residents in the Settegast community, too.
"Unlike a lot of other neighborhoods that are more into the gentrification process, Settegast is pretty early in terms of development and change. We know that it’s only eight miles from downtown Houston, and there’s very little traffic in that part of town right now, so it takes only 15 minutes to get downtown," Van Horn added. “Which definitely means that it is susceptible to gentrification."
This story has been updated to clarify that the ULI Houston received the $27,000 grant.