Subject: Do Not Spend 27 Million Federal Tax Dollars to Build Low-Income Housing Units on the Site of the Westbury Community Garden and Do Not Spend Money to Buy Adjacent Property on Hillcroft to Build the Apartments
I just signed a petition to support saving the 7-acre Westbury Community Garden site in Houston. The Westbury Community Garden is one of the largest and most successful community gardens in Houston and has won local and national awards for its work “growing community through gardening”. I request that the HHA find an alternative site to build low-income housing units in Houston, rather than using the 7-acre site of the Westbury Community Garden and any adjacent properties. As additional justification for this request, the Westbury Community Garden is located next to a 940-unit, low-income apartment complex with more than 300 vacant units. Furthermore, the Brays Oaks Management District, where the garden is located, has thousands of vacant apartments available for lease at this very moment.
In closing, I ask that the HHA please honor its own corporate promise "to effect positive change in lives and communities citywide...while changing...communities for the better". Neither the construction of a housing project on the site of the Westbury Community Garden nor the proposed acquisition of the adjacent Hillcroft frontage property for more housing is in the best interest of the local community.
Thank you for accepting my comments on this important topic.
Description of the Westbury Community Garden
For almost 30 years, the 7- acre tract of land at Greencraig and Dunlap in the Westbury SuperNeighborhood owned by the Houston Housing Authority(HHA) has been park space. It was first leased by the City of Houston’s Parks & Recreation Department and since 2009,the site has been leased to the Westbury Civic Club. The location is home to the Westbury Community Garden (WCG), one of the largest, most successful community gardens and winner of both local and national awards. The garden serves to educate adults and children about good nutrition and ecology, strengthen community spirit, provide organically-grown food, and serve as a gathering place for the community. There are 64 raised beds, an education pavilion, an orchard, compost areas, rain water collection and a butterfly garden. An expansion had been planned in October with a corporate sponsor to add: 35 more beds to satisfy the waiting list; an acre of fruit trees to answer a request from a local food pantry partner; and a Children’s garden area to expand the outreach for Foerster Elementary and area children. The garden's slogan is “Growing Community through Gardening” and that is what it does.
We have successfully created a space where residents of area single family homes garden with residents of the nearby multi-family housing. Our gardeners are as diverse as the produce they grow.
We believe that the Houston Housing Authority’s proposal to spend an estimated $27 million of federal tax dollars to build a 175-250 unit housing project on the land currently occupied by the productive, positive WCG is a misguided use of land, effort and money. There is plenty of "affordable housing" available in the area. In the Brays Oaks Management District there are more than 100 low-income apartment complexes with over 23,000 units in total; there are thousands of vacant units available for lease right now, including more than 300 vacancies in the apartment complex adjacent to the garden.
Building an affordable housing project in this location would only concentrate poverty in an already distressed community. There are no nearby large area grocery stores. This area is a food desert.
We need more green space, not more apartments. Please help us save this seven acre tract of green space and keep the Westbury Community Garden growing.
We are so appreciative of all the partners who recognized the value in what we were doing and helped make the Westbury Community Garden what it is today! We thank all the following for their donations to the garden: Leadership Houston Class XXVIII, Keep Houston Beautiful, Keep America Beautiful, Keep Texas Beautiful, Scotts Miracle Gro, HISD's Foerster Elementary, HISD administration, Bethel's Heavenly Hands, Lloyds Register, Thermo Fisher, Houston Astros, KB Homes, Centerpoint Energy, Hoar Construction, Retired NFL Players, CM Anne Clutterbuck, State Rep Alma Allen, City of Houston's Solid Waste Dept, Mayor's Office; Fox Sports, Plant a Row for the Hungry, National Gardening Association, the Garden Writers Association, Franklin Park Conservancy, Urban Harvest, Bellaire United Methodist Church, Student Conservation Association, Mayors Anti-Gang Task Force, Nestle, SuperNeighborhood 36, Brays Oaks Management District, Westbury Civic Club, Westbury Area Improvement Corporation, Westbury SuperNeighborhood 37, Westbury Garden Club, Girl Scout Gold Award, Boy Scout Eagle project, the City of Houston’s Dept of Neighborhoods, Delta Kappa Gamma ; and hundreds more individuals who donated their time and money and talent.
- The Westbury Community Garden leadership