New program in Houston promotes residential beautification projects

April 18, 2012 4:43:08 PM PDT
It's a new effort to clean up Houston neighborhoods and have residents take pride in where they live -- and the city is planning to give them some financial help to do it.

The city is calling on neighborhood volunteers to come forward in an effort to make their communities look better. But to get the help, folks have to meet certain requirements.

It's a little friendly competition among neighborhoods that want to make their residential area a little nicer, and they'll get help from the city of Houston and a major corporate sponsor if they apply.

In the historic Sunnyside neighborhood, Margaret Jenkins has called it home for 48 years and she's always had thoughts about sprucing up the neighborhood.

"We've been wanting to do the esplanade for a number of years," Jenkins said.

Now her civic club or any other non-profit organization can.

"We want Houstonians to spruce up their neighborhoods," Jenkins said.

Mayor Annise Parker announced a new community initiative called Love Your Block. Local groups can apply to receive a $500 Home Depot gift card to start projects that will improve their block.

"We think that there a lot of Houston neighborhoods that would be interested; only 20 Love Your Block gifts will be available," Parker said.

E.B. Brooks with A Better Houston immediately filled out an application for her organization. Their goal is to plant greenery and improve the walkability of the 2000 block of Washington.

"It's just kind of a catalyst to get the volunteers moving with the kind of the materials that they need to do neighborhood revitalization projects, and so we're really excited to buy paint and supplies and nails and rent tools from them," Brooks said.

The city says the Home Depot-sponsored grant program isn't meant to cover all costs of a neighborhood project. Rather, it's designed to bring people together, get them motivated and provide a good starting point for neighbors like Jenkins.

"Plant some flowers. I've seen a lot of communities where they have beautification, they have flowers and plants on esplanades," Jenkins said. "It looks very pretty to me."

A lot of times, smaller city projects can go a long way in getting people excited.

Interested communities need to apply through the city of Houston.

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