Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro announced the latest cities to be designated as promise zones this week. This is the second set of cities to take part in the federal program that seeks to reduce poverty and crime, increase economic and educational opportunities and attract private investment.
None of the eight announced this week are in Texas, but we thought this was a great opportunity to check in with one of the inaugural five.
Mike Etienne, Director of the Eastside Promise Zone in San Antonio, joins the Texas Standard to talk more about how the project has been going.
On how the process was helped by Julian Castro:
“The city was selected in January 2014 as one of the first five promise zones through a competitive process. Mayor Castro was indeed instrumental in helping San Antonio secure the Promize Zone designation. The mayor was a champion for downtown revitalization – and for the east side of San Antonio.”
On what the neighborhood has been like historically:
“We’ve made significant progress since the designation. For example we have secured $32 million in federal grants to implement our strategies. Graduation rate at Sam Houston High School has increased from 41 percent to 84 percent. Overall, crime has declined by 6.7 percent.”
On what’s next for Promise Zone San Antonio:
“Of course focusing on education – it’s full time job working on improving education from cradle to career. We’re also looking at infill housing. We have a significant number of vacant lots on the east side of San Antonio, so one of our major goals is to build infill housing on those vacant lots.”