Department News


Looking to purchase a home?  The city’s Homebuyer Assistance Program provides assistance to qualified low-to-moderate first-time homebuyers in the City of Houston with a household income at or below 80 percent of the city’s median income. 

The Homebuyer Assistance Program also assists qualified applicants with a total household income up to 110 percent of the city’s median income.  The application process is open to the public, and assistance is provided on need and a first-come, first-serve basis.

For additional information, please visit our website: or call: 832.394.6200.   


The Settegast community received new life and new hope with the expansion of 138-unit multifamily community, known as, Villas at Colt Run located at 7600 E. Houston Road.  This site was previously an abandoned, partially completed, dilapidated apartment complex for several years. 

Villas at Colt Run offers the following amenities: spacious one, two and three bedroom units; accessible units for mobility such as hearing and sight; fitness and business centers; playground; swimming pool, conference room and community club room.   The property is 100 percent preleased with a temporary waiting list. 

The HCDD Director Neal Rackleff joined CM Jerry Davis, community residents and representative from LDG Development, LLC for the official ribbon cutting ceremony on Sept. 18.  The project was supported by a $3 million investment of federal HOME Investment partnership funds.  Total cost of project is $18,073,789. 


On October 10, 2015, the Houston Green Building Resource Center will help area residents conserve natural resources to lessen the effects of the Texas heat by offering a 50-gallon rain barrel and 65-gallon compost bins at a discounted price.  The rain barrels and compost bins, which typically retail at $119, will be offered for just $69.00 and $65.00 each and comes with instructions for easy set-up and use. Made from 100% recycled materials, rain barrels provide homeowners with an affordable alternative to watering from the tap.

Available at these prices for a limited time, these must be ordered online by Sunday, October 4th, 2015. Purchases can be picked at the Green Building Resource Center, 1002 Washington Ave, Saturday, October 10 from 10am to 2pm. The Program Director, Steve Stelzer will also be available to answer questions and assist all who take part in this offer.

50 Gallon Rain Barrel: All components are included to start collecting and using your rainwater. The barrel is made of 100% recycled, HDPE material. Barrels nest for easy storage - three barrels will easily fit in the back seat of a mid size sedan. It has a locking lid with a screened inlet, two overflow ports, and is able to be linked to other barrels. It also meets EPA safety standards and is made in the USA!

65 Gallon Compost Bin: Easy and convenient to convert your food and lawn waste into nutrient-rich compost. This bin holds up to 65 gallons and is constructed of rugged plastic resin. Ventilation holes throughout help with proper composting. This compost bin makes it easy to recycle your yard and kitchen waste, an important step in reducing the volume of garbage needlessly sent to landfills.

To order visit the website by October 4

Certified YardWise Master Composter Course

The Green Building Resource center is also offering Certified YardWise Master Composters (MC), a  complete a 20-hour training course by approved MC instructors, as well as 20 hours of volunteer community service in public compost education and awareness (within six months of completing the course). MC training courses will provide at least 16 hours of classroom time to be supplemented with four hours of hands-on training.

MC training courses will utilize reference texts and curriculum provided by its community coordinator, the City of Houston Green Building Resource Center, with instruction given by Steve Stelzer, Program Director.  Eight guest speakers familiar with composting at various levels and waste diversion in general will provide the majority of the instruction and insight to the attendees. For more information visit:

Thursday through Sunday, October 15 - 18 , 2015

Green Building Resource Center, 1002 Washington Avenue

Cost: $40 (twenty attendees maximum, 10 minimum).

 grocery store

Once declared as a food desert, South Union Community now has a new source of nutrition in the neighborhood. Pyburn’s Farm Fresh Food store, 7125 Scott Street, opened its doors to the community on Friday, July 31, when city of Houston leaders cut the ceremonial ribbon. 

Mayor Annise Parker, Council Member Dwight Boykins, Housing and Community Development Director Neal Rackleff, HUD Officials, Houston Redevelopment Authority and owner, John Vuong gave brief remarks.

Pyburn’s store offers fresh fruit, vegetables, an a large array of meats such as: boudain, seasoned pork chops, marinated pork riblets, marinated chicken wings and smothered chicken to name a few. The store has employed more than 40 jobs to residents of the community.


Acres homesOn Aug. 5, 2015, homeowner Angela Perry was filled with excitement as family and HCDD staff members celebrated entrance into her new home in Acres Homes.

Her home was previously damaged from Hurricane Ike. It is now replaced with a new three-bedroom, two-bath home.

This is just one of 275 Disaster Recovery Round II properties scheduled for reconstruction.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015 13:22

Village Multipurpose Building Open Doors

Village multipurpose center

Housing and Community Development Director Neal Rackleff and Council Member Dave Martin joined State Representative Dan Huberty and Village Learning Center Board Members on Thursday, Aug. 13, for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Village Multipurpose Building located at 3838 Plum Valley Drive in Kingwood.

This new 16,000 square building offers additional much needed space for up to 150 individuals with disabilities. The Village Learning Center services individuals with disabilities serving over 300 clients with stimulating activities and life-skills training.

The new facility expands vocational education/training and speech therapies activities to include additional classroom space, indoor recreation center, gymnasium and a workout/exercise room. HCDD provided $3 million in Community Development Block grant to support this project.

For the second time, Houston Fire Department soccer team competed in the World Police and Fire Games over the summer.  Ten HFD players traveled to Virginia to compete in a week long competition against fellow public servants.  To bolster numbers, players from Nassau County Police joined the team.  Team DSCN4622

The tournament ended with a 2-2 record, having defeated the Indiana State Police and FBI-Washington.  The tournament started off with a loss to a very strong NYPD team, who ended up winning the gold in our division.  After finishing second in group play, HFD Soccer was ultimately knocked out by Northern Virginia Police and Fire.  

In 2013, this biennial tournament was held in Belfast, N. Ireland.  HFD Soccer sent a team of eight to compete in the 5v5 soccer tournament.  They competed against teams from Northern Ireland, Mexico, Brazil and New Caledonia.  After advancing out of group play, HFD Soccer was knocked out by Las Vegas Fire, the only other US team in the competition.  

In addition to the World Games, HFD Soccer competes in the Texas Firefighter Summer Games every summer, and has won a medal each time for the past eight years.  Players from all levels of experience and from stations across the city participate.  The team hones its skills while playing indoor soccer and having practices throughout the year.  All costs are out of pocket,  so the team hosts several fundraisers and sells HFD Soccer merchandise to help keep the costs down.  

Thursday, 18 June 2015 14:35

Fleet Management has new driver

Victor Ayres has performed numerous jobs during his 20-plus years with the City of Houston. Add Fleet Management Department director to the list.


Mayor Annise Parker named Ayres to the director's post in early June.


Ayres' background includes 13 years with the Finance Department and General Services Department, leading Fleet Management, Energy Management and Environmental Conservation Teams. He culminated those assignments as the city’s fleet manager from 2006 to 2008, where he led and developed comprehensive citywide plans and programs which addressed fleet funding levels, vehicle replacement schedules and fleet information management systems.


Before his current appointment and confirmation, Ayres served as the deputy director in the Solid Waste Department over operations since 2008.


“This is still a relatively young department with many opportunities to excel. I am looking forward to working with our talented and innovative staff to ensure that our customer departments are able to meet the citizen’s needs and expectations when it comes to service delivery from the city,” Ayres said.


Ayres holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Memphis and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Houston.


The City of Houston Fleet Management Department was created July 1, 2011, by consolidating all fleet operations in the city into one central department. The department has more than 350 employees and 25 maintenance facilities across Houston to provide fleet services to 22 city departments with a combined municipal fleet total of approximately 12,000 units.


The department is responsible for asset management, maintenance and repairs, fueling services, vehicle acquisition and disposition, equipment specifications, alternative fuel vehicle planning, and implementation and the citywide shared motor pool program, FleetShare.


With the continued support of the City of Houston Aviation System, the Houston Aviation Club continues to flourish. The club hosted its third HASannual Scholarship and Awards Banquet on May 7 at the historical Hotel ICON in downtown Houston.

The Houston Aviation Club has students from Carnegie Vanguard and Ross Sterling High Schools. Toward the end of the school year, the students completed a drone project that focused on innovation and teamwork. Prizes for first, second and third place were awarded. The students flew the drones near Ellington Airport.

A total of $6,000 in scholarships and five internships were awarded. The Houston Aviation Club continues to be a valuable asset to the community.

Members of the Houston Aviation Club at the third annual Scholarship and Awards Banquet.


Visit the Houston Aviation Club website for more information.


Rhonda award

HAS Director of Community Relations and Business Relations Rhonda Arnold was named by the Houston Chapter of  Women in TransportationInternational as their 2015 “Woman of the Year.” Arnold, center, was awarded for her work to advance women in transportation through programs and other contributions. Above from left are Meredith Alberto of Women in Transportation; Jarrett Simmons, HAS assistant director of planning, development and construction; Arnold; Jeanne Julien of WTS; and Lisa Garner, P.E., WTS Houston's 2015 Young Engineer of the Year.

With nearly 6,000 members, WTS is an international organization dedicated to building the future of transportation through the global advancement of women.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015 11:24

HPL welcomes new staff members

The Houston Public Library welcomes new staff members. They are Merriann Bidgood, Caitlin Cody, Michelle Middleton, Erika Thompson, Gabrielle Coats, Valentin Jaimes, Daven Bell, Irene Resnick, Jennifer Unruh, Stephanie Moreno, and Vanessa Gempis. HPL also welcome back Helen Jackson and Mary Hammond. Congratulations on well-deserved promotions for Robert Bliss, Bradford Dobos, Mikaela Selley, Ghulam Markhiani, Celeste Diaz,Trosha Pickrom and Douglas Deitrich. And best wishes and a happy retirement to Laura Cardenas and Ethel Holcombe.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015 11:14

HCDD Announces New Resource and Data Center

HCDD announces new Housing Resource and Data Center. It offers access to housing, community and economic information related to HCDD and City of Houston’s region and national stats.  Stakeholders may access data; housing and economic market studies; growth and development forecasts; and housing opportunities.  Special features include interactive Mapping, My City Mapping.  Visit for more information.

Many Houston-area youth will graduate from more than high school this spring. Some will also graduate from one of several COH Department of Neighborhoods youth programs.

DON offers these programs to help young people develop important values and skills such as responsibility, accountability, networking, communication, teamwork, and problems solving.

Youth this spring participated in several DON youth programs including the Mayor’s Youth Council, the United Minds Youth Leadership Council, the Ladies Choice girl groups and the Young Fathers program will turn their tassels as graduates of the class of 2015.

Many of these students have been participants of these programs during all four of their high school years. DON youth programs provide opportunities for young people to develop important values and skills such as responsibility, accountability, networking, communication, teamwork, and problems solving. They participate in service learning and community outreach projects, group activities, workshops and instructional classes.

Mayor Annise Parker presented the second annual Mayor’s Art Scholarship Competition Awards totaling $3,750 to six local high school students April 15.

   Mayor Art

The art scholarship contest fosters collaboration among Houston area high school fine arts departments and recognizes excellence in student art. This year's contest focused on the life and culture of Houston-area neighborhoods.

The awards were sponsored by the Department of Neighborhoods Mayor’s Office of Education Initiatives, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, and Houston Arts Partners. The presentation kicked off an exhibit of art entries submitted by more than 50 students, which is on view in the City Hall Annex through May 8.

2015 Mayor’s Art Scholarship Recipients

12th Grade winners

First place ($1,000) — Hee Won Cho, Connected Society, Memorial HS, Spring Branch ISD; second place ($750) — Jacqueline Villarreal, Blended, Sam Rayburn HS, Pasadena ISD; third place ($500) — Raina Baggerly, Midnight Snack, Sam Rayburn HS, Pasadena ISD.

11th Grade Winners

First place ($500) — Victor Mendoza, Portrait of the Dead, Cy-Lakes HS, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD; second place ($500) — Han Wen Zhang, Amalgam, Clements HS, Fort Bend ISD; third place  ($500) — Mikhaela Sarmiento, Spaghetti, Cypress Ranch HS, Cy-Fair ISD.

For more information about the Mayor’s Art Scholarship, visit

Page 6 of 7