Gulfton, Houston, Texas

Gulfton, Houston, Texas

Gulfton is a convert|3.2|sqmi|km2|1|lk=on|abbr=on group of apartment complexes with a mostly Hispanic and immigrant population in western Houston, Texas, United States. Located outside of the 610 Loop and inside Beltway 8, west of the city of Bellaire, east and south of U.S. Highway 59, and north of Bellaire Boulevard, Gulfton rapidly changed in the 1980s from a community of young singles from the Northeast and Midwest United States to a community of newly-arrived immigrants." [ Success Stories] ." "Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention". "United States Department of Justice". Accessed April 5, 2008.] The Greater Southwest Houston Chamber of Commerce defines Gulfton as a part of "Southwest Houston." [" [ WELCOME TO SOUTHWEST HOUSTON!] ." "Greater Southwest Houston Chamber of Commerce".] Susan Rogers, author of "Superneighborhood 27: A Brief History of Change," described Gulfton as one of several "low-rent suburban environments."Rogers, Susan. " [ Superneighborhood 27: A Brief History of Change] ." "California Digital Library".]


Gulfton consisted of greenfield land before the 1950s. Shenandoah, consisting of 16 blocks of ranch-style homes and the first subdivision in the area, opened in the mid-1950s. The apartments opened during the Oil Boom of the 1970s; they were built for and housed many young, predominately White people who originated from Rust Belt areas in the Northeast and Midwest United States.

Jim Gaines, the director of the Jesse H. Jones Center for Economic and Demographic Forecasting at Rice Center, described development of apartment complexes in Houston during the mid-to-late 1970s as "not well-planned or coordinated." Gaines, describing the developers as "inexperienced," "undercapitalized," and "often not interested in building a quality product," explained that the developers believed that building apartment complexes would generate easily-gained revenue. Gaines added that the deregulation of financial institutions, tax laws favoring apartment construction, inflation, and a housing shortage in the Houston area "nearly guaranteed" that a developer could build an apartment complex in Houston, sell the building, and gain profits; he described the scenario as "a no-lose situation." Gaines said that the apartment construction quality varied between complexes and that some complexes would age at quicker rates than others; the Jesse H. Jones Center director said that this was apparent at the time.Cobb, Kim. " [ Drugs, neglect transform `single scene' to slums] ." "Houston Chronicle". July 17, 1988. Section 3, Page 1.]

In the 1980s the economy declined and thousands of renters left, causing a rise in vacancies. Many apartments throughout Houston experienced bankruptcy, foreclosure, and constant changes in ownership. Apartment complex owners noticed that many immigrants from countries such as Mexico, El Salvador, and Vietnam wished to settle in Houston, so the owners abandoned previous "adults only" policies that barred children from living in the complexes, listed vacancies in Spanish, and reduced rents. Journalist Kim Cobb said in a July 17, 1988 "Houston Chronicle" that rent rates were about the same at poorly-maintained apartments in Gulfton and other Houston areas and well-maintained apartments in other areas in Houston. In that article, Gaines said that the complexes in Gulfton began to cater to illegal aliens. Gaines explained that many complexes allowed for renters to "double-up" housing, where multiple individuals and/or families share the same unit; the complex owners did not pay attention as long as the rent payments are made. Landlords, including those who did not perform standard background checks, found difficulty in filling apartment complexes. Cobb said that many banks and other lending institutions owned foreclosed apartments and did not properly maintain them as they did not seem to desire "pouring money down a perceived rat hole." Gaines added that many complexes deferred maintenance. John Goodner, a Houston city council member representing a district covering Gulfton at that time, said that more changes occurred in his district in the several years leading up to 1988 than in any other area in Houston; Goodner lobbied for services, such as a satellite health department clinic, for apartment renters.

In a September 3, 1989 "Houston Chronicle" article, Cobb said that many of the new Gulfton residents found that they did not have easy access to government services for low income residents such as food stamps and municipal and county health care. Cobb added that, in July 1989, members of the Houston Resident Citizens Participation Council, a citizen commission that monitored funding for low income residents, did not like seeing funds diverted from the "old poor" to the "new poor"; by then the Gulfton area was designated by Houston's city council as a "Community Development Target." The HRCPC members said that the original "Community Development Target"s were not fully served before the service areas expanded and the budget was decreased. Rose Mary Garza, then the principal of Cunningham Elementary School, said that some government officials felt reluctant to expand services to Gulfton because they believed that the low income apartments would be bulldozed.Cobb, Kim. " [ `New poor' lack social services/Poverty growing in southwest area] ." "Houston Chronicle". Sunday September 3, 1989. Section D, Page 1.]

Robert Fisher, PhD, a professor and chair of Political Social Work at the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Houston, and Lisa Taaffe, LMSW, a project manager for Houston's "Communities in Schools," state in "Public Life in Gulfton: Multiple Publics and Models of Organization", a 1997 article, [Fisher, Robert and Lisa Taafe. "Public Life in Gulfton: Multiple Publics and Models of Organization." "Community Practice: Models in Action". [ 31] .] that the development and decline of Gulfton originated from a "purely short term, relatively spontaneous speculative process" that focused on building apartment complexes, clubs, and warehouses for short-term profit without providing supporting infrastructure such as parks, libraries, recreation centers, small blocks, and sidewalks; one park exists in Gulfton.

In 1985 recent Salvadoran immigrants opened the Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) to provide legal services for Central American immigrants. Between 1988 and 1992 CARECEN cooperated with the Central American Refugee Committee to publicize and advocate for proposals related to the Salvadoran Civil War and the immigration of Salvadorans to the United States. [Fisher, Robert and Lisa Taafe. "Public Life in Gulfton: Multiple Publics and Models of Organization." "Community Practice: Models in Action". 43.] In 1988 various representatives of religious insitutions opened the Gulfton Area Religious Council (GARC); any Christian church was eligible to join the organization. GARC advocated for assisting Gulfton residents and established programs to assist Gulfton residents. Taafe and Fisher said that GARC focused on relieving the symptoms of poverty to the point that it did not focus on removing the causes of poverty. [Fisher, Robert and Lisa Taafe. "Public Life in Gulfton: Multiple Publics and Models of Organization." "Community Practice: Models in Action". 42-43.] After Goodner, described as "conservative" by Fisher and Taafe, organized March 3, 1989 town hall meeting, an organization called the Gulfton Area Action Council (GAAC) opened. The GAAC consisted of business owners who tried to reduce recreational drugs and crime and improve the neighborhood to restore property values. [Fisher, Robert and Lisa Taafe. "Public Life in Gulfton: Multiple Publics and Models of Organization." "Community Practice: Models in Action". 40.]

In the late 1980s the Southwest Houston Task Force, a coalition of members of the City of Houston government, members of health and human services organizations, businesses, schools, religious organizations, and Gulfton-area residents opened after two initial meetings between City of Houston representatives and community groups related to a proposal to establish a municipal health clinic in Gulfton.Fisher, Robert and Lisa Taafe. "Public Life in Gulfton: Multiple Publics and Models of Organization." "Community Practice: Models in Action". 44.] The organization meetings lead to the opening of the Sisters of Charity Southwest Health Clinic, the Gulfton area's first major health clinic, opened in 1991. The clinic, jointly operated by the task force and the City of Houston, provided pre-natal care and child care. Fisher and Taafe said that the organization "lost its focal issue." After performing a "community needs assessment" and identifying "local leaders" the organization ended in early 1992. [Fisher, Robert and Lisa Taafe. "Public Life in Gulfton: Multiple Publics and Models of Organization." "Community Practice: Models in Action". 44-45.] During the same year, when the Salvadoran Civil War ended, CARECEN continued to provide legal services, campaigned for the United States Federal Government to give permanent legal residency to Salvadoran immigrants, and publicized and advocated causes related to Central American immigrants.

In August 1992 Mike McMahon of the GAAC and Francisco Lopez of CARECEN founded the Gulfton Area Neighborhood Organization (GANO). [Fisher, Robert and Lisa Taafe. "Public Life in Gulfton: Multiple Publics and Models of Organization." "Community Practice: Models in Action". [ 45] .] In 1995 CARECEN merged into GANO due to board members shared by both organizations and shared goals. Fisher and Taafe said in the 1997 article "Public Life in Gulfton: Multiple Publics and Models of Organization" that the merger with GANO, which they describe as "progressive," made cooperation between the members of the combined GANO and the Shenandoah Civic Association and the GAAC, which Fisher and Taafe describe as "more conservative," more unlikely.

Around 1:40 A.M. on July 11, 1998, Houston Police Department officers acting on a tip about drug dealing entered a Gulfton apartment complex and shot and killed Pedro Oregon Navarro; the circumstances of the event were disputed. On October 19 of that year a Harris County grand jury did not indict the officers on charges related to the incident. Nestor Rodriguez, a professor of sociology at the University of Houston, described Gulfton as "a place where people are just struggling to get by." Therefore there were less "displays of outrage" than there would have been if the Oregon incident occurred in one of the "older, well-established Latino communities."Suro, Roberto. " [ Police Slaying Of Mexican Raises Furor In Houston] ." "The Washington Post" (via "The Seattle Times"). November 22, 1998.]

The prominence of the Hispanic community lead to changes in area businesses; for instance Kroger remodeled its Gulfton-area store to cater to Hispanics in the 2000s. [" [ RETAIL / H-E-B turning a store into `a Mexican village' / Grocery chain looks to Latinos with the concept of Mi Tienda] ." "Houston Chronicle". October 3, 2006] Beatrice Marquez, a Houston Independent School District parent involvement specialist for the Gulfton area, stated in a 2004 "Education Week" article that many immigrants in many Central American communities specifically identify themselves as going to Gulfton instead of going to Houston. [" [ Personal Touches] ." "Education Week".]


Gulfton is located outside of the 610 Loop south and east of U.S. Highway 59 (Southwest Freeway), south of the Westpark Tollway, north of Bellaire Boulevard, and east of Hillcroft Avenue. Gulfton includes around 90 apartment complexes with more than 15,000 apartment units. The apartments were designed for the young transplants looking for jobs in Houston; in the 1970s one apartment complex included seventeen swimming pools with seventeen hot tubs total, seventeen laundry rooms, and two club houses. Other buildings in Gulfton include strip centers and office blocks." [ 2007 Community Health Report: The Gulfton Area Neighborhood] ." "St. Luke's Episcopal Health Charities". Retrieved on May 10, 2008.]

The apartments contain features catering to young adults and lack features catering to families. Gulfton as of 2005 contains more than one hundred semi-private swimming pools; many of them had been filled.

The city block pattern of Gulfton differs from the city block pattern of Downtown Houston; sixteen city blocks in Downtown could fit in one city block of Gulfton. Few areas in Gulfton have sidewalks.


Between 1980 and 2000 the population of Gulfton increased almost by 100% with no additional complexes established. By 2005 60% of Gulfton residents were not born in the United States and held citizenships of 42 countries. Many residents were illegal immigrants. More than 20 percent of the households did not own cars. Starting in the mid-1980s the Gulfton population experiences increases in female and children populations." [ Gulfton Community Five Year Plan] ." "Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention". June 1999.] Peg Purser, an urban planner who directed a 1991 University of Houston Center for Public Policy study commissioned by the "Houston Chronicle", said that the Hispanic population growth in the Gulfton area was almost entirely from countries in Central America. According to the study, in the ten years between the U.S. Census of 1980 and the 1990 Census, the area gained more than 3,500 Hispanics per square mile. [Rodriguez, Lori. " [ Census tracks rapid growth of suburbia] ." "Houston Chronicle". Sunday March 10, 1991. Section A, Page 1.]

The 2000 Census stated that Gulfton, described as a "hard to enumerate" tract by the U.S. Census Bureau, is the densest neighborhood in the City of Houston; it reported 45,000 people in approximately three square miles. Some community leaders believed that the true population was closer to 70,000. In a 2006 National Center for School Engagement report, Susana Herrera, the program coordinator for Houston's Truancy Reduction Demonstration Project, said that social service agencies and government officials estimated Gulfton's population as 60,000, with 20,000 juveniles. Under-representation in the census is possible due to the fact that many of the area's immigrants, especially those residing in the country illegally, may be distrustful of the government's attempt to obtain personal information. [" [ AFRAID TO BE COUNTED / New immigrants often bring fears from homelands] ." "Houston Chronicle".] Herrera, Susana. " [ Working with Highly Mobile, Immigrant Students in Houston, TX] ." "National Center for School Engagement". March 2006.] By January 30, 2007 about 45% of the families included small children. By the same date many Gulfton families earn less than $25,000 U.S. dollars per year and rely on public assistance.Friedberg, Jennifer. " [ Funds sought for Gulfton center] ." "Houston Chronicle". January 30, 2007.] By 2006 the median family income in Gulfton was $18,733, which was 30% less than the City of Houston's median income level.

By 2000 many Gulfton residents were recent immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries." [ Super Neighborhood #27 Gulfton] ." "City of Houston".] In 2000, the City of Houston's Gulfton Super Neighborhood #27, which includes Gulfton and various surrounding subdivisions, reported a population of 46,369 people. Of them 34,410 (74%) were Hispanic. 5,029 were White, 4,047 were Black, 2,081 were Asian, 61 were Native American, 13 were Native Hawaiian, and 97 were of other races and were not Hispanic. 631 were of two or more races." [ Census 2000: Demographic Data by Super Neighborhood Gulfton #27] ." "City of Houston".]

Of the 32,298 reported residents aged above 18, 22,941 (71%) were Hispanic. 4,064 were non-Hispanic White, 2,980 were Black, 1,715 were Asian, 38 were Native American, 10 were Native Hawaiian, and 65 were of other races and were not Hispanic. 485 were of two or more races.

The super neighborhood contained 17,467 housing units; of the 15,659 occupied units 14,865 were rental units and 794 were owner units. Super Neighborhood #27 had 9,930 families counted in the census, forming a total of 36,019 people within them. The super neighborhood's average family size was 3.63, compared with a city average of 3.39.

The St. Luke's Episcopal Health Charities 2007 Community Health Report on Gulfton included Gulfton and some areas north of Gulfton; the U.S. Census reported that area to have 60,637 people in the 2000 census. Since 1990 that area's population increased by 16,000 people (over 26.5 percent) and the area's Hispanic population increased by nearly 16 percent. In a twenty year span ending in 2000 the non-Hispanic White population decreased by 50 percent. In 1980 about 15 percent of the area population consisted of children. In 2000 nearly 30 percent of the population consisted of children.

Infrastructure and government

supported the establishment of the storefront.Fisher, Robert and Lisa Taafe. "Public Life in Gulfton: Multiple Publics and Models of Organization." "Community Practice: Models in Action". 38-39.] A June 1999 report called "Gulfton Community Five Year Plan", written by the Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention, stated that the sudden changes in Gulfton's population exceeded the police department's ability to adapt to the changes. The establishment of the storefront augmented the police department's presence in Gulfton.

The Houston Fire Department provides fire protection services. The HFD Fire District 68 Primary Run Area covers Gulfton; Gulfton is located near Fire Station 51 Sharpstown. [" [ Run Area] ." "Houston Fire Department Station 68".]

Harris County has offices at a complex at 6300 Chimney Rock Road in Gulfton. Services include the Bellaire Tax Office Branch and the Harris County Youth Services Center. [" [ Branch Office Locations] ." "Harris County Tax Office". Accessed September 28, 2008.] [" [ Agenda November 3, 2004] ." "Harris County Commissioners Court] ." November 3, 2004.] The Harris County CPS operates the TRIAD program from the center to prevent and address juvenile crime. [" [ TRIAD Prevention Program] ." "Harris County CPS". Accessed September 28, 2008.] As part of the TRIAD program the county's Gulfton Youth Development Program operates the Gulfton Community Learning Center at 5982 Renwick Drive as a method to reduce juvenile crime. [" [ Gulfton Youth Development Program] ." "Harris County CPS". Accessed September 28, 2008.] The county operates the Southwest Courthouse Annex 19 at 6000 Chimney Rock Road. [" [ Annex Facilities Annex Courthouses] ." "Harris County Public Infrastructure Department Facilities & Property Management Division] ." Accessed September 28, 2008.]

Two city council districts, District C and District F, cover portions of Gulfton. As of 2008 Anne Clutterbuck and M. J. Khan, respectively, represent the two districts. [" [ COUNCIL DISTRICT MAPS > DISTRICT C] ." "City of Houston."] [" [ COUNCIL DISTRICT MAPS > DISTRICT F] ." "City of Houston."] [" [ City Council] ." "City of Houston". Retrieved on May 10, 2008.] By December 3, 1991, increases in crime and changes of demographics in southwestern Houston neighborhoods lead to many challengers desiring to fill the city council seat of District F. [Johnson, Stephen. " [ Crime, drugs main issues in Dist. F race] ." "Houston Chronicle". November 3, 1991. Voter's Guide, Page 5.]

Gulfton is located in District 137 of the Texas House of Representatives. As of 2008 Scott Hochberg represents the district. [" [ Map of Texas House District 137] ." "Scott Hochberg". Accessed September 28, 2008.] Gulfton is within District 17 of the Texas Senate. [" [ Senate District 17] " Map. "Senate of Texas". Accessed September 28, 2008.] Around May 3, 1991, Marc Campos of the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project said that the state senate redistricting plan would deliberately re-draw District 15 of the Texas Senate to ensure the re-election of John Whitmire and hamper elections of possible Hispanic representatives. Campos cited the inclusion of Gulfton in Whitmire's district; Campos said that, since many in Gulfton are new immigrants and do not vote, the inclusion of Gulfton would dilute Hispanic voting strength. [Austin Bureau Staff. " [ Hispanic activist questions Senate redistricting plan] ." "Houston Chronicle". Friday May 3, 1991. Section A, Page 32.] Jane Ely of the "Houston Chronicle" said in a May 15, 1991 "Houston Chronicle" article that some people did not want to see Gulfton included in a mostly-Hispanic Texas Senate district because, according to them, many Gulfton residents would not vote. [Ely, Jane. " [ `Community' can mean just one] ." "Houston Chronicle". May 15, 1991. Section A, Page 24.]

Gulfton is in Texas's 9th congressional district; as of 2008 Al Green represents the district. [" [ District 9] ." "National Atlas of the United States".]

Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas (METRO) operates bus services in Gulfton. Lines serving Gulfton include 2 Bellaire, 9 North Main/Gulfton, 33 Post Oak Crosstown, 47 Hillcroft Crosstown, and 163 Fondren Express. [" [ System Map] ." "Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas".] [" [ Schedules] ." "Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas".] Gulfton Area Neighborhood Organization successfully lobbied for the increase of METRO routes in Gulfton. [Fisher, Robert and Lisa Taafe. "Public Life in Gulfton: Multiple Publics and Models of Organization." "Community Practice: Models in Action". 46.]


The Gulfton area includes land used for commercial and light industrial purposes. When Gulfton gained a large number of immigrants starting in the mid-1980s, the regional economy could not support the increasing pool of potential workers. This lead to an increase in the unemployment rate, which caused families to "double-up" housing, where multiple families share the same unit so that the overall costs are lower than if the families each had their own units. Scott Van Beck, the head of Houston ISD's West Region, worked at the West Region Headquarters in the Gulfton area in 2006; during that year he said in a keynote address to the Rotary Club of Bellaire "When I look out my window on Chimney Rock, I don't see big corporations; I see Gulfton; I see mom and pop businesses." [" [ HISD Western Superintendent Outlines Urban Educational Challenges for Bellaire Rotarians -- Van Beck Advocates 'Social Capital', Adult Contacts] ." "Rotary Club of Bellaire Southwest Houston" at "PR Newswire". January 19, 2006.]

The corporate office for Rice Epicurean Markets, a Houston-area grocery store chain, is located at 5333 Gulfton Drive in the Gulfton area. [" [ Rice Epicurean Store Locations] ." "Rice Epicurean Markets".] Rice established its headquarters there in 1960, and the current (as of 2008) headquarters facilities opened on that land in 2005. ["Rice Epicurean Markets Opens New Headquarters." "Progressive Grocer", "VNU Business Media, Inc." (Accessed from "LexisNexis"). February 11, 2005.] The Fox Network Center was formerly located on Gulfton Drive in the Gulfton area before it moved to The Woodlands in unincorporated Montgomery County around 2005; a 2008 "Houston Chronicle" article described the former Fox Network Center location, which was staffed by around 300 people, as "flood-prone." [Barron, David. " [ TV-Radio Notebook: Sports anchors go into hard-news duty] ." "Houston Chronicle". September 24, 2008.] ["High-tech Fox networks in The Woodlands." "Houston Business Journal". Friday October 21, 2005. [ 1] .] [" [ Hoffman: Attack of the TV people] ." "Houston Chronicle". September 24, 2005.]


Oriana Garcia, a Gulfton-area community developer of Neighborhood Centers Inc., described Gulfton as "Gulfton is sort of like the Ellis Island of the current time" as residents from seventy distinct cultures speaking thirty different languages occupy an area with around 16,000 square feet of space, which Garcia describes as "probably the most dense area in Houston."

The Houston Parks and Recreation Department operates Burnett Bayland Park and Burnett Bayland Community Center, located in Gulfton. The complex has an outdoor basketball court, a hike and bicycle trail, a playground, a lighted athletics field, a playground, and a water playground. [" [ Burnett Bayland Park and Burnett Bayland Community Center] ." "City of Houston".] Prior to the opening of Burnett Bayland, no recreation centers existed in Gulfton.Bardwell, S. K. and T. J. Milling. " [ Gulfton-area gang strikes fear/Police, residents see Cholos as a growing menace] ." "Houston Chronicle". September 5, 1993. Section A, Page 1.]

The popularity of soccer (football) in the neighborhood flourished after the Southwest Houston Soccer Association was established in the 1990s; prior to its establishment, a few adult team existed while a children's league did not exist. Silvia Ramirez, a soccer coach, said in a 1995 "Houston Press" article that a lack of confidence in English language abilities and time consumed by work prevented many area residents from creating soccer leagues. Some people stated in the same article that the will to play soccer prevented them from joining gangs. [" [ Kicking the Gang Attraction] ." "Houston Press".]

Neighborhood Centers, Inc. operates The Bridge/El Puente, a privately-operated community center, at 6114 Renwick #201B. In addition in 2007 the group announced that it would build the Gulfton Neighborhood Campus at the intersection of Rookin Street and High Star Drive when it raises $20 million.

In 2004 many "promotoras", people from "hard-to-reach" communities who study health care from doctors and non-profit organizations and return to their communities to educate the people in health care practices, operated in Gulfton. U.S. public health care programs began using the "promotora" model as "promotoras" operated in Latin America. The "promotora" model used in Gulfton varied in some manners from the Latin American "promotora" system. For instance, promotoras cannot legally dispense medication. [Kolker, Claudia. "Familiar Faces Bring Health Care to Latinos;'Promotoras' Act as Bridge to Hard-to-Reach". "The Washington Post". January 5, 2004. A Section, A03.]


After the 1980s economic bust and the changes in demographics, crime increased in the area. By 1988 many Houstonians gave the neighborhood the name Gulfton Ghetto, derived from Gulfton Drive. Kim Cobb of the "Houston Chronicle" said in a 1988 article that police officers patrolling the Gulfton area could indicate the complexes where they often arrest criminals. In April 1992 Bob Lanier, the Mayor of Houston, named Gulfton as one of ten Houston neighborhoods targeted by a city revitalization program. [Piller, Ruth. " [ Mayor lists 10 neighborhoods in revitalization-rebuilding plan] ." "Houston Chronicle". April 11, 1992. Section A, Page 26.] One aspect of Lanier's project consisted of building barricades around the Shenandoah subdivision to reduce traffic and crime; the Shenandoah Civic Association supported and pursued the street closures.Fisher, Robert and Lisa Taafe. "Public Life in Gulfton: Multiple Publics and Models of Organization." "Community Practice: Models in Action". 39.] The Gulfton Area Neighborhood Organization (GANO) opposed Shenandoah's barricading. All of the other advocacy groups, except for some GAAC members, opposed the closure. Members of the community groups said that the closured has racist motives, that the closures would not effectively control crime, that the city is not using funds wisely, and that the closures would harm local businesses.

S. K. Bardwell and T. J. Milling of the "Houston Chronicle" wrote in a September 5, 1993 article that a youth street gang named the "Southwest Cholos" began to appear in Gulfton; the authors say that the gang did not have a traditional leadership seen in New York City and Los Angeles gangs. Police officers cited by the article's authors said that the gang engaged in criminal activities. GANO states that it will remove graffiti from area buildings.

In a November 2, 1995 "Houston Chronicle" article Francisco Lopez of the Gulfton Area Neighborhood Organization said that the organization requested for the City of Houston to expand actions against crime for five years and that he had not seen improvements. Sarah Turner, a spokesperson for Lanier, said in the same article that the city took corrective actions. The controversy erupted after six teenagers and two adults sustained injuries in a drive-by shooting near Long Middle School; police believed that the shooting was related to street gangs and arrested a 13-year old Sharpstown Middle School student in connection with the shooting. [Urban, Jeffrey. " [ Gulfton's leaders make plea to city/Action urged against crime] ." "Houston Chronicle". Thursday November 2, 2995. Section A, Page 34.] Morganfield, Robbie. " [ State funds to help Gulfton area fight juvenile crime] ." "Houston Chronicle". Saturday November 4, 1995.] During the same year the State of Texas planned to provide $500,000 worth of grant funds to Gulfton-area agencies to prevent crime. Garnet Coleman, a state representative of the Democratic Party, said that the state targeted Gulfton because Gulfton's zip code had 419 juvenile probation referrals; this was the highest number of referrals for any zip code in Harris County. After the grant was established, GANO cooperated with the Shenandoah Civic Association and the GARC to accomplish the goal of reducing juvenile crime. [Fisher, Robert and Lisa Taafe. "Public Life in Gulfton: Multiple Publics and Models of Organization." "Community Practice: Models in Action". 47.] In a 1995 "Houston Chronicle" article, Nelson Reyes, a man who counseled immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador at the Gulfton Area Neighborhood Organization, said that Gulfton-area parents have positive attitudes about living in Gulfton since they made more money in the United States than they did in their home countries, while Gulfton-area children feel the impact of area crime. [Althaus, Dudley. " [ Twilight's Children: Part 11] ." "Houston Chronicle". December 14, 1995.] A 2005 KHOU-TV report stated that Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) criminals operate in Gulfton. [" [ Up Close: Life is tough in the 'Gulfton Ghetto'] ." "KHOU-TV". June 17, 2005.]


Primary and secondary schools

Elementary and middle schools

Gulfton is zoned to public schools in the Houston Independent School District.

The attendance boundaries of Benavidez Elementary School, Braeburn Elementary School, Cunningham Elementary School, and Rodriguez Elementary School cover sections of Gulfton. [" [ Benavidez Elementary Attendance Zone] ." "Houston Independent School District". Accessed October 6, 2008.] [" [ Braeburn Elementary Attendance Zone] ." "Houston Independent School District". Accessed October 6, 2008.] [" [ Cunningham Elementary Attendance Zone] ." "Houston Independent School District".] [" [ Rodriguez Attendance Zone] ." "Houston Independent School District". Accessed October 6, 2008.] In addition, Gordon Elementary School, located in the City of Bellaire, serves as a reliever campus for Benavidez and Cunningham elementary schools in the Gulfton area and Elrod and Milne, schools serving other parts of Houston." [ School Histories: the Stories Behind the Names] ." "Houston Independent School District". Accessed September 24, 2008.] The Gulfton area is zoned to Jane Long Middle School with Pin Oak Middle School as an option. [" [ Long Middle Attendance Zone] ." "Houston Independent School District". Accessed October 6, 2008.] [" [ Pin Oak Middle School] ." "The Southwest District". "Houston Independent School District".]

Gabriela Mistral Early Childhood Center in Gulfton is the early childhood center closest to Gulfton. Poor students, homeless students, students who are not proficient in English, and children of active-duty members of the U.S. military or whose parent has been killed, injured, or missing in action while on active duty may attend Mistral. [" [ Early Childhood and Prekindergarten Programs] ." "Houston Independent School District".] Las Americas Middle School and Kaleidoscope Middle School, two optional middle schools formerly located in Gulfton, are located at 6501 Bellaire Boulevard. [" [ Charter School Agreements Renewed, But Las Américas to Close] ." "Houston Independent School District".] [ [ Home Page] . "Las Américas Middle School". February 17, 2005.]

Several state charter schools are located in Gulfton. Amigos Por Vida Friends For Life Charter School, opened in 1999, is a state charter school for Pre-Kindergarten 3 through Grade 7. [" [ About Us] ." "Amigos Por Vida Friends For Life Charter School". Accessed September 23, 2008.] Academy of Accelerated Learning, Inc. operates a charter school at 6025 Chimney Rock Road. [" [ Contact Us Page] ." "Academy of Accelerated Learning, Inc.". Accessed September 23, 2008.] YES Prep Lee, a state charter middle school located inside the Lee High School campus, is near Gulfton; the school plans to expand to a six through twelve campus with thirty classrooms. As of 2007 many students from YES Prep Lee were from the Gulfton area. [Radcliffe, Jennifer. " [ YES PREP PROGRAM / Unveiling a unique education alliance / Up to 130 charter school 6th-graders will attend classes at HISD's Lee High School campus this fall] ." "Houston Chronicle". July 12, 2007.]

Several private schools are in the Gulfton area. Robindell Private School, which serves preschool through Grade 3, is located at 6610 Alder in the Gulfton area. [ [ Home page] . "Robindell Private School". Accessed September 23, 2008.] The Holy Ghost School, a PreK-8 Roman Catholic school operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, is near Gulfton. [" [ Gulfton] ." "Greater Southwest Houston Chamber of Commerce". Accessed September 23, 2008.]

Most children generally live within convert|2|mi|km|1|lk=on|abbr=on (as measured by travel along the closest public roads) of their assigned elementary schools, so they are usually not eligible for free school bus transportation; this means that many children have to walk or ride bicycles to school. [" [ Student Eligibility] ." "Houston Independent School District". Accessed July 14, 2008.] [" [ Appendix] ." "Gulfton Pedestrian & Bicyclist Special District Study". "State of Texas". Accessed June 14, 2008.]

Bellaire, Texas-based Neighborhood Centers, Inc. operates "Head Start School-Based Sites" at Rodriguez and Benavidez elementary schools and at Amigos Por Vida. [" [ Locations Northwest Region] ." "Neighborhood-Centers, Inc." Accessed September 23, 2008.]

History of elementary schools

In 1953 Cunningham Elementary School, the first elementary school to serve Gulfton, was built with a capacity for 300 students.Markley, Melanie. [ Keeping up with changing times/Crowded campuses get relief as new schools open doors] . "Houston Chronicle". Monday January 20, 1992. Section A, Page 9.] Braeburn Elementary School opened in 1956. Long Middle School, which as of 2008 serves Gulfton, opened in 1957.

In 1979, Cunningham Elementary School, which was built for 300 students in 1953, had 436 students. 75.5% of them were White, 14% qualified for free lunch, and 15% qualified for reduced cost lunch. Due to the increasing populations and the sudden conversion of adults-only complexes in Houston, Cunningham Elementary School became overcrowded by 1986; its student population increased from around 500 in 1985 to more than 900 in 1986. [Hurst, Deborah. " [ Classrooms running out/HISD is in a tight spot] ." "Houston Chronicle". December 2, 186. Section 1, Page 14. No Star.] [" [ HOUSTON SCHOOLS CROWDED Some classes have to meet in storerooms, cafeteria] ." "Associated Press"/"The Dallas Morning News". December 3, 1986.] By 1988 Gordon Elementary School, a campus in Bellaire, Texas, re-opened to serve as a reliever school to Elrod and Cunningham elementary schools. By September 3, 1988, 1,268 students were enrolled at Cunningham; of them 72% were classified as Hispanic. Rose Mary Garza, the principal of Cunningham, said that 99% of the students were on free and reduced lunch programs. Many of the children arrived from Central American countries experiencing civil strife; therefore many of the children received inadequate educations prior to coming to the United States. In a 1989 "Houston Chronicle" article, journalist Susan Warren described Cunningham's overcrowding as "unanticipated." [Warren, Susan. " [ Construction priorities for HISD are set] ." "Houston Chronicle". Friday October 16, 1989. Section A, Page 32.] By 1992 Cunningham had around 1,200 students and 51 temporary classroom units. As immigrants from Gulfton and other areas moved into apartment complexes zoned for Lee High School, Lee's demographics changed from mostly White students to mostly Hispanic students.

Benavidez Elementary School opened on Tuesday, January 21, 1992 and relieved Cunningham of around 675 students and 29 teachers; Benavidez opened as part of a $370 million Houston ISD school construction project. On its opening day, due to overcrowding, Benavidez referred 400 students to other schools. By 1996 both Cunningham and Benavidez became overcrowded. [Markley, Melanie. " [ HISD to begin building three additional schools] ." "Houston Chronicle". December 22, 1990.] [Kliewer, Terry. " [ Overcrowded, aging facilities a growing problem] ." "Houston Chronicle". October 8, 1996.] [" [ AFRAID TO BE COUNTED / New immigrants often bring fears from homelands] ." "Houston Chronicle". February 20, 2000.] Gordon also became a reliever school for Benavidez and Milne elementary schools. The Las Américas Education Center, which included a preschool named Las Américas Early Childhood Development Center and two middle schools named Las Américas Middle School and Kaleidoscope Middle School, started as a reliever campus for Cunningham. In 2000 the center moved into the Las Américas Americas Apartments at 5909 Glenmont Drive in Gulfton. Rodriguez Elementary, built on almost 10 acres with Rebuild 2002 funds, opened during the first week 2002 to relieve Benavidez, Braeburn, and Cunningham elementary schools. Pin Oak Middle School in Bellaire opened in 2002 to relieve several overcrowded schools in southwestern Houston.

In summer 2007 the former Las Américas Education Center closed due to an expired lease. [" [ Agenda September 12, 2000] ." "County of Harris, Texas". September 12, 2000.] [Barguiarena, Karla. " [ Gulfton area charter schools face closure] ." "KHOU-TV". March 8, 2007.] The early childhood center merged with Mistral. The middle schools moved to a new building at 6501 Bellaire Boulevard. [" [ Charter School Agreements Renewed, But Las Américas to Close] ." "Houston Independent School District".] [ [ Home Page] . "Las Américas Middle School". February 17, 2005.]

High schools

Gulfton residents are zoned to Lee High School, which opened in 1962 opened to relieve Lamar High School, with Lamar and Westside high schools as options. [" [ Lee High School Attendance Zone] ." "Houston Independent School District". Accessed October 6, 2008.] [ Home Page] as of May 9, 2005. "Lee High School".] Grossman, Wendy. "Tee Time." "Houston Press". November 13, 2003.] Most Gulfton high school-aged residents attend Lee High School. [" [ 2007 Community Health Report: The Gulfton Area Neighborhood] ." "St. Luke's Episcopal Health Centers".] At the time of its opening Lee High School mainly had wealthy White students; its demographics shifted to a mostly Hispanic and immigrant student body.

In addition HISD also operates Liberty High School, a charter high school for recent immigrants. In January 2005 Houston ISD opened Newcomer Charter School on the Lee High School campus. School officials placed fliers in Gulfton-area apartment complexes, churches, flea markets, and washaterias. The school relocated to a shopping center along U.S. Highway 59 (Southwest Freeway) and adopted its current name in June 2007. [Garza, Cynthia Leonor. " [ School a haven for new arrivals / Leader helps his immigrant HISD students feel at home at charter campus] ." "Houston Chronicle". October 1, 2008.]

tudents in Gulfton public schools

By the 1997-1998 school year, 75% of Gulfton students qualified for free or reduced lunch. Almost 95% of Gulfton students were classified as "economically disadvantaged." This is almost double the Texas rate. More than 70% of Gulfton students exhibited a lack of English language proficiency, while 27.6% overall of Houston ISD students and 13.4% overall of Texas exhibited this proficiency. Susana Herrera, MSW, the program coordinator for Houston's Truancy Reduction Demonstration Project, said that truancy was a major issue in Gulfton education; she adds that language barriers, a lack of supervision by parental and guardian figures, "high mobility," lack of familiarity with United States laws, and familial norms act as "barriers to attending school." [" [ Fall 2005 News] ." "Michigan State University". Fall 2005.] A publication by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention stated that parents had many factors that complicated their support of education, including low socioeconomic status, "language and cultural barriers," and "limited opportunities for acculturation." The City of Houston started the Gulfton Truancy Reduction Demonstration Project, which is operated by the Anti-Gang Office from the Mayor of Houston and includes support from Houston ISD, the Houston Police Department, and the municipal courts. [" [ Success Stories] ." "Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention" of "U.S. Department of Justice", hosted on "National Criminal Justice Reference Service". Accessed September 28, 2008.] Scott Van Beck, the head of Houston ISD's West Region, which administers Gulfton-area schools, said in a keynote address to the Rotary Club of Bellaire that urban education needs "social capital" or frequent adult contact with children. [" [ HISD Western Superintendent Outlines Urban Educational Challenges for Bellaire Rotarians -- Van Beck Advocates 'Social Capital', Adult Contacts] ." "Rotary Club of Bellaire Southwest Houston" at "PR Newswire". January 19, 2006.]

Community colleges

Gulfton is within the jurisdiction of the Houston Community College System (HCCS). The community college district operates the HCCS Gulfton Center, located at 5407 Gulfton Drive. Gulfton Center, a 35,100 square foot campus building owned by HCCS, opened in 1990 after Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Co. sold the building to HCCS for $700,000 (1990 dollars). The West Loop Center, an HCCS-owned campus at 5601 West Loop South which opened in Spring 1999, is in close proximity to Gulfton. [" [ TSPR Houston Community College System] ." "Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts". Accessed September 23, 2008.] [Bivins, Ralph. " [ Lower-priced buildings keep office sales humming] ." "Houston Chronicle". July 22, 1990. Business section, page 6.]

Public libraries

Houston Public Library operates the HPL Express Southwest at the Southwest Multi-Service Center at 6400 High Star, adjacent to Gulfton. [" [ HPL Express Southwest] ." "Houston Public Library". Accessed July 12, 2008.] HPL Express facilities are library facilities located in existing buildings. [" [ HPL Express] ." "Houston Public Library". Accessed July 12, 2008.] [" [ Electronic library to be built within new Multi-Service Center / City's first branch to have abundance of CDs, DVDs] ." "Houston Chronicle". March 1, 2007. Accessed July 12, 2008.] Prior to the opening of HPL Express Southwest on January 24, 2008, no libraries existed in Gulfton. [" [ HPL Express Southwest Grand Opening] ." "Houston Public Library". January 1, 2008.]

Gallery of schools

ee also

*History of Houston


External links

* [ Gulfton Area Neighborhood Organization] at "Neighborhoodlink"
* [ Gulfton Voices] - "Neighborhood Centers, Inc."
* [ Residents rise up in southwest Houston / Seeds of activism are taking root in community]

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