Emancipation Economic Development Council
In 2015, Project Row Houses gathered with organizations, businesses, and community residents to discuss the future of the northern Third Ward. Threatened by gentrification and the loss of our community's history and culture, a coalition of churches, nonprofits, community development corporations, business owners, artists, and residents joined forces to inspire hope and contribute to the revitalization and preservation of the Third Ward. Together they formed the Emancipation Economic Development Council (EEDC).
Nearly a century and half ago, a group of newly-freed African-American slaves led by Baptist minister Reverend Jack Yates purchased the land where Dowling and Elgin streets meet, in what became the first public park in Texas and remained one of the only municipal parks open to African-Americans during the era of racial segregation. They called it "Emancipation Park," and it has remained a staple for Third Ward's annual Juneteeth celebration.
Like many Houston communities in recent years, the Emancipation Park area is experiencing change at an ever-increasing pace. Chief among those changes is the ambitious redesign of Emancipation Park itself, which reopened in 2017 after a $38 million renovation.
Project Row Houses remains dedicated to the preservation of this community's history and identity. We share this neighborhood with its residents and face the same challenges as them. Through the formation of the EEDC, along with continued partnerships and future endeavors, we hope to redefine revitalization by addressing needs instead of displacing the people who make this community historic.
The EEDC has made great strides in its work along the Emancipation Avenue corridor. As of January 2018, the EEDC has:
- Incorporated as an entity within in the State of Texas with plans to submit an application for 501(c)3 statues by the end of the month
- Been granted provisional status with the Texas Main Street Program, which provides the EEDC with technological assistance and access to a network organized by the Texas Historical Commission
- Established the Third Ward Is Home Civic Club, Houston's first civic club composed primarily of renters, with plans to launch a tenants' rights initiative in the coming months
- Been working to establish a Financial Opportunity Center that will assist Third Ward residents with financial coaching, social services, and workforce training
- Garnered support from anchor institutions - Texas Southern University, the University of Houston, Hermann Memorial Hospital, and Houston first - to sign an MOU to increase employment opportunities for Third Ward residents (in tandem with the Financial Opportunity Center)