Apartments Are Communities
The Apartments Are Communities project civically engages lower-income apartment dwellers to improve their community and apartment complex. Because of our effective community organizing in Alief, the City of Houston reached out to us in 2009 to partner on a pilot project for Apartments Are Communities at the Mint Apartment Complex (now Falls at Bellaire Apartment Complex), where a thousand lower-income people reside. The project has proven highly successful, and is considered a model project by the City of Houston’s mayor and the head of its Health and Human Services Department. It is also lauded by area management districts and apartment owners.
The Falls at Bellaire Apartment complex (previously Mai and The Mint Apartment complex) has seen measurable decreases in crime (20%), improved renter retention (20%), and increased resident civic participation (voting in 2010 increased 112%). Examples of changes at the complex include: 1) a Resource Center established and run by residents with after school programs, tutoring, a computer lab connected to the school district’s curriculum, and numerous resident-led clubs, from Boy Scouts to choir club to women’s empowerment; 2) over 300 volunteers participating in planning and building a large community playground and garden; 3) the Alief Youth Summit hosted at the complex, attended by 180 teenagers who focused on addressing their school and community concerns (2/12); and 4) 300 people from Alief attending Save Texas School Rallies at the Capitol.
About Apartments Are Communities
|The Falls at Bellaire, formerly Mai and The Mint||The Linda Vista Apartments|
Where We Began
In early 2009, the City of Houston approached Texans Together to form a collaborative pilot project to improve apartment communities in Alief through civic engagement. Residents were concerned about crime, a shortage of youth activities, unemployment, a lack of job skills training, and poor community services. Their overall consensus was that Alief was a woefully underserved area, forgotten by local officials. Based on their concerns, Texans Together began organizing the residents to change their community and lives. A key first step in this process was to get residents to see their neighborhood as not just another apartment complex for temporary residence, but as their community to improve.
|Residents Hosting Family-Friendly, Community Building Events|
Engaging the Community
|Resident-Organized Food Fair in Action||TTEF's Frank Garcia with Apartments Are Communities' Volunteers|
In the summer of 2015, the Falls of Bellaire were rewarded a grant from CASE (Center for Afterschool, Summer and Expanded Learning,) an intermediary for afterschool activities formed by Harris County Department of Education in 1999. The Resource Center hosted a summer teen job program where older kids worked in the center as monitors, assisted other residents with Center activities like computer labs, handed out lunches, and helped with field trips for the youngest enjoying the center. There was a Teen Empower Houston Leaders (EHL) class where they learned the tools and power of direct action organizing, and focused on the needs of the community. Their planned project was a back to school drive. There were arts and crafts sessions to make holiday decorations and gifts like Father Day "World Bestest Dad" mugs. There were also field trips like a trip to the Museum of Natural Science where after eating lunch at the center, the older teens partnered with the younger girls and boys on the trip. They toured the Buffalo Soldier Museum, the Jurassic exhibits, and viewed the remnants of prehistoric plants and animals and their descendants. It was a hands on tour, from the smiles and interest, everyone had a great time. Somehow, they ended up in a shark cage. We're not sure how, but they weren't telling. The trip was a big hit and we were happy to be a part of it.
|Falls of Bellaire Learning Trip at Museum of Natural Science||Ready to be a part of Shark Week... Sharks Beware!|
Recent Community Achievements
With the support of Texans Together, apartment residents have learned the civic skills needed for community change, improving their day-to-day lives and strengthening community bonds in the process. Once residents have developed the necessary skills, we take a backseat and allow the community leaders to take charge.
Notable highlights include:
To learn more about Apartments are Communities or if you are interested in turning your
apartment complex into a community, contact us at 713-782-TTEF (8833) or by email at