U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson announced Thursday that Fort Worth is among 17 cities in the first group of locations to receive an EnVision Center, a new program that partners federal and local resources in an effort to move people out of public housing.
“Housing assistance should be more than just putting a roof over someone’s head,” Carson said in a statement. "These EnVision Centers offer a more holistic housing approach by connecting HUD-assisted families with the tools they need to become self-sufficient and to flourish.”
The announcement, made in Detroit, comes a little more than a year after Carson visited Fort Worth. Fort Worth Housing Solutions, Fort Worth's public housing agency, will lead the local efforts.
A holistic approach provides a one-stop shop for public housing residents, rather than having to find services that are scattered.
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Fort Worth's EnVision Center will be in the city's Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center at 5565 Truman Drive, in Stop Six. The city administers its Community Action Partners program, funded in part by HUD, that serves economically disadvantaged individuals, families and the elderly, at the community center.
Fort Worth Housing Solutions will be able to reach more people through the EnVision Center, said Mary-Margaret Lemons, the agency's president.
"We're going to start planning immediately," Lemons said. "We’ll now be working closely with the city and our many community partners to begin planning for a center that will successfully support the efforts of low-income families across the region.”
In March 2017, and led by Mayor Betsy Price, Carson toured the downtown Hunter Plaza housing development and several east Fort Worth locations, including a Cook Children's Clinic on Berry Street and the Bethlehem Center and United Community Center, which are at 951 Evans Ave.
Price said Thursday she is pleased Fort Worth has the opportunity to help pilot the program. Last fall, she and others hand-delivered its application to Carson in Washington, D.C.
"He liked what we had to say," Price said. "It fits nicely in with our healthy community initiatives. The holistic approach is something we've missed for a long time."
HUD said the Trump administration wants to find ways for people to leave HUD-assisted housing to become homeowners and renters in the private market as a way to stretch federal dollars and help more people.
EnVision Centers will be located on or near public housing developments. In Fort Worth, that means Cavile Place, which Carson toured last year.
Carson said then he was impressed with how Fort Worth has leveraged public-private partnerships to improve the health and education of its residents and that the city "can be excellent model.”