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Community Development




Creatingan environment where individuals in a community can freely interactthrough shared interests and work together to face the city`schallenges is considered as a significant step towards establishingan overall well-being and happiness within the society (Leigh &ampBlakely, 2013). The fostering of such a collaborative environment canbe done through community development. Community development entailsthe participatory of the public and is in most cases, an interactiveform of neighborhood planning and design. The members of thecommunity contribute towards the development of goals, objectives,plans, funding or identification of resources, implementation ofprojects and the reassessment of the existing local planning policies(Spencer &amp Montero, 2013). The purpose of this plan is todetermine community development planning strategies in Sunnyside, aHouston’s Super Neighborhood City so as to better-living conditionsfor the residents.

Historically,Sunnyside is an African-American community with a rich history, prideand neighborly compassion. Due to its introspective spirit, thecommunity leader in the city declared a call for action to establisha safe neighborhood for the children to be taught the quality ofschools and enhance safety, housing, jobs, and the infrastructure forall residents. Currently, the community has a diversified population.The city is situated on the “Southside of Houston and its bordersare Loop 610 south on the North, Hwy 288 on the West, Sims Bay on theSouth and extends through various lands to the west of Martin LutherKing Boulevard.” The community development plan for the city can beevaluated through an assessment of the population, economicdevelopment, housing status, and future land use as illustrated inthe next section.


Thepopulation of Sunnyside is very diverse with the Black populationconsidered as the predominant race. The other populations include thewhites, Hispanic, American Indians or the Alaskan Natives, Asians,and other minority races. This population can be further assessed asfollows:


Thetotal population of Sunnyside is 33,795. 53.6 percent of thispopulation are females while 46.4 percent are males (Gooding, 2013).However, the City’s population has been on a decline since the1970s as a result of the African-American population leaving thearea. In the City’s history, the African-American community hasbeen over 95 percent but this percentage has declined to 87 percentwhen the Hispanic population increase from 1.5 percent in the 1990sto 10 percent in 2013 (Sunnyside Demographics, 2016). Currently,there is more than seven times the population of Hispanics living inSunnyside as compared to 25 years ago. However, like any other olderAfrican-American neighborhood, the City is undergoing an increasinglyand extraordinary process of bi-racial integration between theHispanic populations and African-Americans.

Acording to the last census figures, the total population is over 40million. The majority represented by 22 percent of the population isunder the age of 20, whereas the majority represented by 71 percentare between 20 and 64 years old (Sunnyside Demographics, 2016). Only7 percent of the population is above 64 years of age (Gooding, 2013).The median age is 34.17. Currently, nearly three-quarters of thepopulation in the city are employed, with a minimum employment age of16 years old. Additionally, there are 15,587 households in the city. Of this household, 69.6 percent are family households while theremaining 30.4 percent are non-family households (Gooding, 2013). Theaverage persons per household are 2.81 percent. The total expenditureof the households is below the national level (SunnysideDemographics, 2016).


Thecity’s population is very diverse. However, the people of color andthe ones living in poverty are vulnerable to higher levels ofenvironmental pollution than the white population living in poverty.This situation is attributed to the continued growth of housingdiscrimination which favors the whites. The health impacts on thiscommunity from degradation of the environment are also intensified byother adverse socioeconomic and health issues such as lack ofaccessibility to medical care, healthy food, and publictransportation, together with distress from poverty, unemployment,and increased crime rates (Zhang et al., 2015). The city has a crimeindex of 277, meaning that their rate of offenses is moderate.

Further,the majority of the city’s population are married with only 36.1percent of the population who never married (Eldredge et al., 2016).These statistics show that the residents value family life. Theaverage income for the households is $125,204 indicating that mostpeople in the city are middle-income earners. This also implies thatthe rates of poverty are low. The average expenditure for thehouseholds is $81,122 meaning that living standards of the city’spopulation are high. Of the total household spending, the majoritygoes to contributions, insurance, and gifts. The expenditure of thehouseholds in health care is the least. This spending pattern showsthat majority of the residents have good health and do not requiremuch attention in medical care.

Further,it noted that the majority of the City’s population are highlyeducated. Of the total population, 10.2 percent of the populationhave received at least a bachelor’s Degree, 37.5 percent haveattended some college, 64.8 percent have a graduate degree while someapproximately 6.5 percent have an associate degree. Those who havesome high school education accounts for around 24.3 percent while theones without high school education are 16.8 percent (Gooding, 2013).However, the four-year education rates have declined from 80 percentin 2-1- to 76 percent in 2013. The rate of graduation has alsostagnated at 862 percent during the same period (SunnysideDemographics, 2016). Similarly, the four-year dropout rates among theeconomically disadvantaged population significantly reduced ascompared to parts with less racial segregation. The characteristicsof this population just show how educated the residents are,considering that the majority have a minimum of a bachelor’sdegree. This population can be inspired to become more productivethrough better community planning.

Setof Policies

Sunnyside’scommunity elders come up with an action Plan that focused on threekey issues that include youth mobilization and education, crimemitigation and safety, and lastly, community development, housing,and infrastructure to meet the needs of its growing population. Theneighborhood is built under a rigid zoning regulation that for a longhas encouraged a deadening conformity due to its inflexibility.


Superneighborhoods are very important as far as solving together isconcerned within a given locality. Residence mainly put more emphasison issues that narrowly affects the neighborhoods, and notnecessarily the entire city. There is the need for communitydevelopment officials in the super neighborhood to encourageresidents to prioritize, identify, and address problems together as acommunity regardless of race, gender, color, or religion. Again, thecommunity development planners should consider implementingstrategies to increase school enrolment rates and reduce the rates ofturnover among the four-year school-going students. The potentialstrategies to implement include making daycare and preschoolavailable and affordable for the low-income earners households inSunnyside. Similarly, the planners can consider using housing andimprovement programs to promote child stability and decrease studentturnover. The planners may also establish programs that encourage andoffer resources to schools to include extended learning as well asthe enrichment opportunities within and outside classroomenvironments.

Further,to reduce the crime rates, the community development planningcommittee should put in place strategies to control the crime rates.The plans include improving police response to crime scenes reducethe rates of criminal activities by empowering the communities tofind better ways of earnings, rather than robbery and engagement indrug trafficking.


TheCity has an Economic Development Advisory Board which advises theCity Council and City staff on issues regarding economic incentivepackages that are utilized in the recruitment of new enterprises andhelping the existing firms to develop. The Board usually holdmeetings on an as-needed basis to discuss issues of economicdevelopment of the City (Gooding, 2013). The meeting normally takesplace at Sunnyside City Hall. Understanding the economic developmentof the City is critical to community development planning so as toidentify areas of the economy that need improvement. Sunnysideeconomic development can be understood further as illustrated below.


Currently,the poverty rate of Sunnyside is one-third that of the entire EastHouston communities. The majority of the population in represented by61.5 percent Sunnyside are in the white collar jobs while only 38.5percent are engaged in blue-collar jobs (Sunnyside Demographics,2016). The unemployment rate stands at 2.5.3 percent of the state’sunemployment rate, which is considered very low.

Accordingto Sunnyside Demographics (201, when considering racial disparity,the Asian experience the least unemployment rate at 4.8 percent, thewhites rate is 4.9, Hispanic counts for 9.8 percent, the black is14.6 percent while the American Indian and Alaska Natives have thehighest unemployment rates. Similarly, the majority of the income isfrom individuals in the age bracket 45 to 64 years of age. It is alsonoted that women make approximately 83 percent of the householdpurchasing decisions. The City’s average worker income stands at$32,407. The white population has the highest household income sharein the City and stands at $33,112, while the Native Hawaiian orPacific Islander have the least income share of the city (Bloom,Lasner, &amp Schalliol, 2016). Further, the City’s householdincome and other earnings majorly come from Social Security Incomewhich is $15,905.

Additionally,the City’s occupational distribution ranges from sales and officeoccupations to healthcare practitioners and technical jobs. Themajority of the households are engaged in the sales and office jobswhich accounts for 22.4 percent followed by management, businesses,and financial occupations at 16.7 percent. The service occupationsrepresent 14.1 percent while education, legal, community service,arts, and media jobs altogether represent 12.8 percent of the City’soccupational incomes (Bloom, Lasner, &amp Schalliol, 2016). Theproduction, transportation, and material moving jobs contribute 10.8percent, natural resources, constructions, and maintenance accountsfor 10 percent. Similarly, computer, engineering, and science jobsrepresent 6.7 percent while healthcare practitioners and technicaloccupations represent 6.6 percent of the City’s household incomes(Sunnyside Demographics, 2016). However, the City also face thechallenge of changing business climate as a result of the internalforces related to the physical dynamics of the commercial properties.Just to mention a few, the problems include deferred maintenancetogether with inappropriate building modifications, utilization ofmaterials and applications, demolitions, and infill developments. Allthese economic issues influence the economic development of the City.


TheCity has a variety of revenue generating resources that sustains itseconomic development agenda. The household income of Sunnyside hasincreased by $2,765 from 2000 to 2014 even though the median incomeincreased by $9,000 (Bloom, Lasner, &amp Schalliol, 2016). Thisincrease indicates that the wages of the City’s residents are notin pace with the overall salaries. Similarly, 79 percent of theSunnyside’s households are very low, or extremely low. This lowhousehold income puts the City’s homes among the eight poorestsuper neighborhoods in Houston. Besides, in 2010, the Super neighborhad the fifth highest unemployment rates in the entire Houston as 18percent of the workers are unemployed, displaying the unemploymentrates for African-Americans in Houston. The level of unemployment isconsidered the highest in any kind of racial or ethnic group,illustrating that African-Americans are very disadvantaged when itcomes to securing employment opportunities and security of theirjobs. Similarly, the majority of the residents lack access toemployment as a result of few jobs in the community and majorbusiness centers located nearby.

Sunnysideraises its revenue for development projects from the hotel tax,grants, circling loan money, the buy-downs, and marketing plus TIF,local, regional, as well as the resources owned by the state andsupport from local financial foundations. In the city, it isnoticeable that almost all the communities experience sprawl to agiven extent. There is the need for the community developmentplanning team to have serious discussions regarding the kind ofgrowth strategies related to city hall relocation and business,industrial, and housing improvement decisions.

Setof Policies

TheSuper neighborhood has economic development institutions whichcomprise of the Economic Development Advisory Board and SunnysideChamber of Commerce which all regulate the economic activities in thearea. The Super neighborhood’s Economic Development Plan is focusedon pursuing the “Walk Friendly” national designation. The planindicates the desire to address smart economic growth strategies andtackle the walkability matters. Again, there is the “2009-2011Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Gulf Coast EconomicDevelopment District” policy that provides the background forregional economic development and might be utilized and a resourcewithin the city of Houston.


Thereis the need to create a sustainable, efficient, and economicbackground for taking action and engaging the community toparticipate in the economic development of the City. There is theneed to develop sidewalks in the neighborhood because the majority ofthe residents and school-going children do not own cars, thus, walkanywhere in the streets. The community’s committee on developmentneeds to support and improve community development and economicimprovements through development of proper infrastructure to meet theneeds of the residents. Besides, adhering to the community vision andsupporting community-led initiatives will redirect the restoration ofSunnyside economy. Finally, the community leadership needs to adoptand implement a community master plan to guide the developmentinitiatives for the benefit of current and future generations.


Sunnysideconsists of a collection of 97 known subdivisions and among thesesubdivisions, 37 are residential (Bloom, Lasner, &amp Schalliol,2016). In any city, the development controls can influence the costof housing and act as an obstruction to fair housing. Thisrestriction might be done through imposing rules and regulations thatdeter the new construction of new ownership and houses for rental,which the households with least incomes can afford, especially, incircumstances where the median household incomes of the minoritypopulations are considerably low as compared to that of the Caucasianhouseholds.


Currently,there are disparities in median household incomes which create a hugedifference in how much a median income earner can afford to spend onhousing facilities. The Economists in the region have been using thethumb rule hat homes are affordable only when the buying price doesnot exceed two and a half or three times the buyer’s gross monthlyincome on housing. According to the Development of Housing and UrbanDevelopment of the U.S. states that a household is considered “costburdened” when its expenditure is 30% and above of its gross incomeon its housing.

Accordingto Bloom, Lasner, &amp their owners occupy Schalliol (2016), 4.7percent of more than 2, 335 homes in the City, 22.1 percent arerented, while only 3.2 percent of the units are unoccupied.Considering the statistics, the majority of the individuals in thecity are homeowners. Additionally, the median value of theowner-occupied house is approximate $191,914 while the mean value is$207,049. Within the City, one out of every five housing units isowned free and clear. The City’s building structure is composed ofa mixture of architecture where multiple buildings are covered withsiding. However, the residential regions and homes are wellmaintained. The neighborhoods are clean, and people appear to havepride in their properties.

Additionally,there are approximately 8,500 homeless individuals with another bunchof about 11,000 students that might also be regarded as not home eventhough they are living with their friends or are in streets becausesome are aged out to stay in the foster care system.


Dueto the increased expenditure on housing, the poor households lackenough money to spend on essential goods such as food, clothing,furniture, transport, health, savings as well as health insurance.The disparity in housing market extends to the local businesses whichsuffer the most from the decrease in discretionary expenditure as aresult of high housing costs. Similarly, it is noted that spendingabove 30 percent of accommodation deprives more funds to othersectors of the economy (Bloom, Lasner, &amp Schalliol, 2016).Similarly, almost all the median income-earners households cannotafford to purchase the median-valued homes in the City. The currentdisparity has grave consequences for the decreasing economicstratification and housing isolation. This calls for the concernedcommunity stakeholders to identify the median selling price ofvarious types of house ownerships and the median rental for rent bynumber of existing bedrooms.

Setof Policies

Thereare sets of policies put in place to guide the residentialconstructions. There is a New Residential Construction body set up toissue building permits. Since 2000, the Authority has issued morethan 575 house building permits (Bloom, Lasner, &amp Schalliol,2016). To get a building permit, applicants are required to submit alicense application. The application must be accompanied by anaffidavit to the building stakeholder and state that theconstruction, modification, repair for which the building permit isneeded, and its use to which the enhancements or building will be putwill not go against the deed limits or covenants running togetherwith land. Additionally, provision of either a title report orcompliance letter from the Planning and Development that containscopies of recorded plates and their deed limitations may act as asupport for the affidavit. Similarly, the attorney is eligible tobecome a party to a restriction suit under certain circumstancesafter performing a careful investigation of the issues relating tothe land and the law. However, the City’s attorney is not allowedto review private deed limitations for provisions that limit thesale, rental, or utilization of property on the basis of race, color,religious belief or country of origin.


TheCity has set aside an estimate of $1.3 million dollar fund foremergency shelter and another $20 million dollars to care for thehomeless individuals (Bloom, Lasner, &amp Schalliol, 2016). There isthe need to implement a mixed income and mixed-use development inSunnyside to revitalize the concentration of poverty in one location.Similarly, the community development planners need to revise therental policies and make houses affordable for the poor households.Property owners must be made to acknowledge that making rentsaffordable does not necessarily lower the value of their assets. Theneighborhood planners should also consider increasing and preservinghomeownership while improving the current rental housing, minimizethe overconcentration of government subsidized apartments and focuson providing a higher quality of public services.

FutureLand Use

Inthe Whole of United States, Houston is the only City that does nothave a zoning ordinance to regulate the utilization of land. However,to compensate, there are subdivision controls that have somecomponents with the necessary zoning ordinance, for instance, theminimum size of the lot, the width of the lot, requirements forparking, and building lines or setbacks provisions. The City ofSunnyside depends on a system of compliance with particular privatedeed limitations that might be enforced by the City’s attorney(2010Comprehensive,2016). The use of land component deals with the establishment featureof land. However, to come up with a better community developmentplan, it is crucial to assess the current situation and identify theset of policies as and determine the improvements to be implemented.


Theuse component in Sunnyside considers the existing and projected useof land by different categories. These types include residentialhouse, commercial, and industrial buildings. According to 2010Comprehensive (2016), the City has 10,693 acres of land. Of the totalnumber of land, the municipal land cover 21.59 square miles. The vastmajority of the land lays vacant and unoccupied. This vacant land is4,144 acres. Again, the single-family residential land is 3,354acres, while the multifamily residential land is 326 acres (2010Comprehensive,2016). The land for commercial or office use is 898 acres whilepublic or semi-public land in use is 1,284 acres. The industrial landis 687, whereas land devoted for railway and roadway is 3.11 squaremiles. The land covered by Lake is 1.77 square miles (2010Comprehensive,2016).


Consideringthe current situation, it seems that there is a right balance of thedifferent categories of land uses in Sunnyside super neighborhood.Similarly, there is enough land to accommodate the future userequirements when considering the expected population increase. Thefuture land use requirement can be gauged through comparing thecurrent land utilization with the national land usage guidelinesregarding the amount of land usage demanded to sustain a givenpopulation. When considering the current population and the existingland use, the future land use can be focused on the standards basedon the City’s current population estimate with the present land usecategories to be considered in determining the future land useinclude Single-family, Multifamily, commercial, and industrial (2010Comprehensive,2016).

Currently,the existing demand is 3,354 acre for the single-family while thesehouseholds only needed 3,050. The future needs for this category in2020 is projected to be 4987 (2010 Comprehensive, 2016). For themultifamily, the current land is 326 while the land needed by thecategory is 122 acres. The projected future use is 200 acres.Further, for the commercial group, the present land usage stands at898, while the land needed is 829. In 2020, the projected land usewould be 1,356. Finally, for the industrial land usage, the actualusage is 687 whereas the land demanded by the category is 293 acre.It is projected that by 2020, the area needs for industrial usagewould be 479 acres (2010Comprehensive,2016). The main issue of concern is how this land will be establishedand where the projected development will take place. It is theresponsibility of the community for development planning to identifythe problems that need to be addressed in the comprehensive plan ofthe City.

Setof Policies

TheCitizen Committee of Sunnyside City adopted the Urban LandInstitute’s (ULI) Reality check exercise to apply to existingconditions to ensure proper land usage. The reality exercise ismainly conducted to identify the possible locality where the futureresidential and non-residential developments to occur in the Greercommunity. From 2030 population projection, the Committee came upwith an estimate of 9,250 additional residential houses and 7,400,000square feet non-residential space needed to sustain the futurepopulation (2010 Comprehensive, 2016).


Dueto increase in future land usage, the Citizen Committee of the townneeds to implement the major issues of concern. Consequently, theleadership in the neighborhood need to develop a more andbetter-connected pedestrian and multipurpose trails to support thefuture population. Similarly, the downtown region needs to act as thecenter of the community as well as creating neighborhood centers on asmall scale. Again, the community needs to develop a lot of greenspace and open regions in the entire city. Additionally, thecommunity needs to be mobilized to use land more efficiently tosustain the future land utilization. Besides, the neighborhood shouldcreate sufficient community facilities such as parks, public safetyrequirements, libraries, hospitals, schools and other socialamenities facilities to sustain the future generation (2010Comprehensive,2016). The city’s community planners can also consider enhancingcommunity appearance by maintaining smaller town atmosphere and theinclusion of citizen participatory environment. Similarly, thecommittee should consider developing land usage framework that wouldprovide how projected improvements will occur as well as the locationwhere it will happen.


Overall,Sunnyside Neighborhood is poor and considered as one of the sixthmost dangerous neighborhoods in Houston. The Neighborhoodsexperiences a series of problems ranging from increased crimes,higher rates of unemployment, racial segregation and lack of socialamenities. Similarly, the population of the neighborhood isdecreasing due to African-American population leaving the area. Theneighborhood is also associated with poor economic, educational, andhealth outcomes. However, the neighborhood has a vast land fordevelopment projects in the future. The existing land resourcesexceeds the land needs of the residents. Therefore, there is the needfor community leaders to mobilize resources to improve the currentstatus of the neighborhood and make it safe and friendly tonewcomers. Sunnyside community leaders should redefining the land usevision through put emphasis to particular regions and provide moredetailed level of planning. The community leaders need to cometogether and teach their children good community values so as toreduce any future crimes in the neighborhood.


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