Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner

By Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner

As a lifelong resident of Acres Home, I’ve watched good people struggle simply because our neighborhood was ignored or under-resourced for decades. Some policymakers recommend these folks – my neighbors – move out of their homes and into so-called “opportunity neighborhoods,” places with more middle-and upper-income residents and more access to jobs, schools and health care.

But why? Why tell young people that its best for them to leave the communities where they grew up, made friends, went to school and worshipped in order to succeed in the world? Instead of telling them to move to neighborhoods with more opportunity, why not bring more opportunity to their neighborhoods?

The complete story of Sunnyside has not been told. We are writing new chapters every day and defining for ourselves what Sunnyside is and will become.

That’s why I created the Complete Communities initiative – to strengthen neighborhoods that have not reached their full potential. It’s about working closely with the residents and business owners of the communities to enhance access to quality affordable homes, jobs, good schools, well-maintained parks and quality retail stores.

I see value and greatness in all 10 Complete Communities, but some in the media are trying to paint one—Sunnyside—as still being neglected. This does a disservice to the residents of Sunnyside who are hardworking and proud of this historic community and have labored to improve it over decades.

The Complete Communities planning effort began in Sunnyside in October 2019 and ended in July 2020. Despite the pandemic, 262 people were engaged in this process, which you can read about and review Sunnyside’s draft Action Plan on the City’s website.

In those planning sessions, Sunnyside stakeholders learned more about the City projects and programs completed, underway or planned for their community:

  • More than $8 million to preserve and rehabilitate 81 existing homes in the Sunnyside community.
  • $712,516 in direct assistance to help 34 low- and moderate-income families and individuals achieve the dream of homeownership.
  • 43 houses in Sunnyside repaired through the City of Houston Home Repair Program.
  • 15 homes restored through the Houston Disaster Recovery program.
  • Nearly $200,000 in funding to boost capacity for 10 critical nonprofits in the Sunnyside area that provide essential services including transitional housing, job training, childcare and substance abuse recovery.
  • $4.2 million to rehabilitate Sunflower Terrace, a residential community of 160 affordable apartment homes and on-site educational services.
  • 5 COVID-19 mass testing sites in the Sunnyside area—Cullen Middle School, Houston Community College South, Mt. Hebron Baptist Church, Worthing High School and Caldwell Elementary School.
  • New Fire Station 55 replacement on a 3.987 acre newly acquired site for just south of Old Fire Station 55 on Cullen Boulevard that is equipped with five large apparatus bays, support areas for 16 firefighters, EMT’s, Fire Chief and Captain’s quarters.
  • $25 million committed to a new, bigger and better Sunnyside Multi-Service Center, a two-story, 60,000-square-foot building with its own health clinic and community. Construction at 4410 Reed Road is expected to begin in the summer of 2021 with completion at the end of 2022.
  • The redevelopment plan for the 240-acre landfill bordered by Bellfort, Reed Road, Hwy 288 and Comal into the nation’s biggest urban solar farm.
  • $4.4 million street rehabilitation projects for Bellfort, Airport and Jutland through the new Street Rehabilitation Initiative. More than $1.5 million to replace the pavement on Sunbeam Street east of Cullen. More than $1 million in other mobility enhancements including sidewalks, ADA ramps and traffic calming $4 million drainage system rehabilitation, including $2.3 million to restore roadside ditches and culverts between Sunnyside Park and Scott Street. More than $1 million to replace aging water lines along Holmes Road and the area south of Worthing High School.
  • Proposed $111 million drainage improvement project that will replace and improve existing storm sewers and construct larger storm sewer trunk lines throughout the neighborhood. The project could reduce ponding on 12 miles of street, reducing flood risk to approximately 3,460 properties.

These projects are just some of the initiatives that my administration has worked on with input from residents of Sunnyside, but our work together is not finished.

As mayor, I will not be satisfied until Sunnyside has a fair share of this city’s resources and projects to help it thrive. This community has faced challenges over the years and remains resilient despite those difficulties. The residents persevere and maintain their “Sunnyside Pride”- a vibrant culture built on modest homes, welcoming churches and committed businesses that succeed despite economic changes and demographic shifts.

The complete story of Sunnyside has not been told. We are writing new chapters every day and defining for ourselves what Sunnyside is and will become.