Eleven months after U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson made the announcement, the HUD EnVision Center in Fort Worth has opened.
HUD introduced the EnVision Centers as "centralized hubs" that assist low-income families to achieve self-sufficiency. Carson has designated 17 cities across the country for his signature initiative.
The Fort Worth EnVision Center opened Monday, May 6, following a grand opening ceremony hosted by the City of Fort Worth and HUD. Mayor Betsy Price, Councilwoman Gyna Bivens and HUD Regional Administrator Beth Van Duyne attended the event.
The EnVision Center, the only one in Texas, is located in Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center at 5564 Truman Drive.
The center promises to be a one-stop solution provider for wide-ranging economic challenges.
"The idea is to help families — husbands, wives, children — who are struggling, who may be at the poverty level to find out how do they get through this," Price told Fort Worth Business Press. "And just financial assistance. But have them contact HUD if they're looking for housing, Fort Worth ISD if they need to go back to school or if their children are struggling, or they gonna go to TCC."
Visitors at the center can get information on federal programs and issues they're facing, from social security to affordable housing. So rather than visiting or calling different agencies, the EnVision Center consolidates all the services at one place.
"What resources the city has is to empower people, to be able to come to one area and take control of the issues to help them get self-sufficiency," Price said.
All the HUD centers are designed to operate nearby areas with larger public housing population so that the resources are readily available to those in need.
Fort Worth's EnVision Center center is situated close to Cavile Place public housing project, a property of Fort Worth Housing Solutions which is also a partner at the center.
"We are going to apply not just ideas, but actual research to get things done here," said Suzanne Richards, EnVision Center Fort Worth coordinator. "Particularly around employment and how we can bring together all the resources, information and ideas to actually translate that to action."
Stop Six Neighborhood, which encompasses Cavile Place and the EnVision Center, has an unemployment rate that beats the city's average by a large margin.
According to Fort Worth city's data, 21.6% of the Stop Six residents are unemployed and about 78% of the population have a low-to-moderate income level. The data estimate suggests at least 40% of the area residents live in poverty.
"Here at the EnVision Center, we see ourselves as the quarterbacks of coordination--that's what we're doing," Richards said. "There's a lot of information, resources, ideas, funding, people and, we're going to bring them here to get things done."
The EnVision Center will work with federal, state and local governments, as well as non-profits, faith-based organizations, corporations, public housing authorities, and housing finance agencies. It will function on the basis of public-private partnerships.
Van Duyne, the former mayor of Irving, said Fort Worth has a strong sense of community, which HUD acknowledged while selecting it as one of the first EnVision Center sites.
"Our EnVision Centers, for most parts, are [focused] on lower-income communities," Van Duyne said. "Just because people make less money doesn't mean they don't have the exact same needs, or the exact same wants or desires."
The center will cut out of the bureaucracy when residents seek for resources, Van Duyne said.
"Sometimes, you just need a little bit of a hand," Van Duyne said. "And if we can help provide that, that is better for the entire city, the entire state, for the entire country."