PaperCity Magazine

May 2014 - Houston

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"WORKSHOP HOUSTON GAVE ME A RESOURCE TO HELP TWO STUDENTS FROM A FAMILY OF 10 BE THE FIRST TO GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL." — REGINALD HATTER Goodman's hair Bryan Nguyen, makeup Sergio Escalona. Goodman wears Carven dress, cardigan and shoes, all at Sloan/Hall. Hatter's blazer, dress shirt, trousers and shoes, all at Billy Reid. GIMME SHELTER T he Housing Corporation of Houston might just be the most under-the-radar nonprofit in our town — yet it's arguably the one with the greatest impact. It was founded in 1968, just years after the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, under the Model Cities program and during the tenure of Mayor Louie Welch. Since then, it has provided more than 20,000 families, veterans, physically and mentally challenged adults, and seniors with affordable, decent and safe dwellings. It has also interwoven the above citizenry into the fabric of integral communities from midtown to downtown, the 288 area to Southwest Houston, and even reaching to Sealy and Baytown — the latter with an attractive new loft-like community for seniors that could pass for a luxury mid-rise. And since 1968, one man has been at the top of the Housing Corporation: Tom Forrester Lord. Recruited by Welch to carry forth a functional, organic public/private partnership — to date, the federal government has chipped in hundreds of millions of dollars, to the net effect of improving our neighborhoods — Lord is, at first glance, an unlikely champion for the gritty world of public housing. With a degree from Yale Divinity School and another Yale grad degree in political theory, the dapper sixth-generation Texan with Brooks Brothers style appears to be more at home on a golf course than the Gulf Freeway complex of the Earl Hatcher Commons (the Housing Corporation's next big endeavor, erecting 200 homes, completion 2016). But anyone who knows Lord understands that he possesses a missionary zeal for the cause of equal housing. His more recent book, Housing as a Political Vocation, reads as a rally for social justice. When I mentioned one of my late neighbors — the musician Huey Long, the last surviving member of the Ink Spots and a popular Heights fixture — Lord spoke of knowing the maestro well and relayed with pride the story of developing Heights House, the senior's high-rise along Heights Boulevard where Long lived for many years. As president, Lord steers this vital organization — which serves 2,000 residents in 13 apartment communities, from the historic 1920s-era San Jacinto units at Midtown that offer dwellings with character for vets and special-needs retirees to Park Yellowstone Townhomes off 288 geared for families — and passionately puts into practice the Housing Corporation's mission. "Affordable housing is a key ingredient in determining the quality of life in our city," he says. "Consider whether you want to live in a city that is not concerned for the housing of its elderly … and those without financial support. These are the areas we have addressed in the past and will serve even more aggressively in the future." Catherine D. Anspon "AFFORDABLE HOUSING IS A KEY INGREDIENT IN DETERMINING THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN OUR CITY." — TOM FORRESTER LORD The Housing Corporation's Tom Forrester Lord BIKES, BEATS, BOOKS AND MORE I ncredibly, the road to college for many Southeast-side middle and high school students is paved with extreme bicycles, catchy hip hop beats and the whir of a sewing machine. Cue Workshop Houston. Headquartered blocks from Project Row Houses, minutes from Texas Southern University and the University of Houston, the nonprofit is literally in the heart of the Third Ward. From Workshop's unprepossessing low-slung building on Sauer Street, great plans for higher education and the buzz of a band saw go hand in hand. Next door, a four-plex joins the burgeoning 17,000-square-foot campus; once lower-income apartments, it's been retrofitted as a music lab (aka the Beat Shop) downstairs, with instruments, computer software, turntables and recording equipment gearing up to produce sharp urban rap and rhythms. Upstairs, there are cozy spaces for academic tutoring, the Scholar Shop and an area for forays into fashion, graphic design and crafting vis-à-vis the Style Shop. Such is the tale of Workshop Houston, which invites neighborhood youth to its hands-on programs while providing mentoring, math, technical skills and fostering a sense of belonging and community. At the helm is a pair of early-30s administrators with a sense of purpose. Co-director Katy Goodman has been with Workshop since its modest start in a downstairs space at the Eldorado Ballroom in 2003. From a staff of four, a tricked-out bike-centric program and an initial annual budget of $23,000, this Oberlin College grad has been able to carry forth her convictions as to social justice and access for all to quality education. Now entering its second decade, Workshop has been enthusiastically embraced by the Houston art world, with gallerist Hiram Butler early on hosting a pivotal fund-raiser while Contemporary Arts Museum Houston included Workshop Houston in curator Toby Kamps' 2009 show "No Zoning" about practices that address the urban fabric of Houston. Now with a staff of nine, a robust budget of $522,000 and plans to realize a new building devised by Rice Building Workshop to teach 110 students daily, this is a golden time for the Workshop. The buoyant Goodman is hands-on and capable of navigating the terrain of the diverse pupils she oversees, as well as society donors such as Vallette Windham and Elizabeth Winston Jones, who served respectively as chair and honorary chair of Workshop's second annual luncheon, which took place weeks ago at a private club in town. This co-founder, who seems demure yet is anything but, is joined by Reginald Hatter as co-director. The charismatic Hatter arrived in 2007; he hails from L.A. but has family connections in Houston via his father and aunt, both Third Ward residents. This Baylor political science/criminal justice grad's expertise is preparing students for SAT tests, and he headed a nonprofit tutorial service for middle- school students through his college fraternity. Hired at Workshop to launch the Scholar Shop, he joined Goodman as co-director in 2010. Together, the pair innovatively curates a neighborhood place that exists at the crossroads of social sculpture, education, youth engagement and creativity. We predict these collaborators are poised to be next-gen Rick Lowes. Catherine D. Anspon Workshop Houston's Reginald Hatter and Katy Goodman

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