I just have one question about this.
Houston residents living in neighborhoods afflicted with blight could see twice as much money poured into boarding up abandoned houses and mowing overgrown yards under a partnership city and county leaders trumpeted Tuesday.
Harris County Commissioner Gene Locke plans to invest $750,000 to $1 million in mowing lawns, boarding up broken windows and removing trash, discarded tires and other debris from properties in his Precinct 1, which covers much of urban Houston.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner joined Locke for the announcement in Turner’s native Acres Homes neighborhood, as the pair cheered what they called an unprecedented effort. Typically, such initiatives within Houston’s limits are conducted by the cash-strapped city government.
“When you’re dealing with minimum resources, you’ve got to stretch your resources as much as possible,” said Turner, who must close a budget gap of up to $160 million by July. “For people that live in this community, live next door, this is a tremendous advance.”
The city and county have collaborated before. The two governments are building a voter-approved joint inmate processing center and have begun operating a shared radio facility for their public safety fleets.
But elected officials have recently put an increased emphasis on partnership. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett pushed city-county ventures in his State of the County address last month, and Turner campaigned for mayor last year partly on a vow of increased collaboration.
Why is it that this sort of thing hasn’t been done before? I’ve wondered about this before, and I’m still wondering. The vast majority of Precinct 1 residents are City of Houston residents. Why haven’t we been the beneficiary of this kind of county investment before? I get that this is one part Commissioner Locke making a case to get the nomination for November, one part Mayor Turner following through on a campaign promise, and one part Judge Emmett’s emphasis on city-county cooperation. I also get that the most likely answer to my question is “because we’ve always done it that way, and no one thought to do it any differently”. I’m glad that’s no longer the case, and I suppose there’s not much value in looking back, but I just can’t help but marvel at how we’ve all accepted this as normal for as long as we have.