CITY OF BEAUMONT
The South Park Neighborhood Association is seen by Beaumont officials as a positive example of community empowerment. The Mayor and Council attend regular meetings of the South Park Neighborhood Association to discuss neighborhood issues and concerns. This cooperative effort has allowed the City to more effectively deliver services and solve neighborhood problems. This dialogue has produced several successful results: 1) A police sub-station operated by volunteers from the South Park Neighborhood Association was opened. Equipment was purchased using HUD grant funds. 2) Citizen's on Patrol, volunteers from the South Park Neighborhood Association, monitor the neighborhood and report any unusual activity. 3) Community improvement occurred through the landscaping of a centrally- located green space using HUD grant funds. 4) An attractive marker which identifies the South Park Neighborhood was constructed. 5) Home buyers outreach efforts are used to attract low income families to purchase homes in the South Park neighborhood. Equipment required to produce advertising is to be purchased using HUD grant funds.
The citizen involvement and participation of the South Park Neighborhood Association has inspired the formation of numerous neighborhood associations throughout Beaumont. The City's 42 neighborhood associations have joined together to form a Federation of Neighborhood Associations to address community-wide neighborhood-based issues.
In 1988, the City of Beaumont created an Economic Development Program that was designed to assist small business with start up and expansion capital and provide both full time and part time jobs.
The City submitted an application to the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and leveraged its dollars by a ratio of two to one. The City allocated $250,000 of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) monies. It was matched with $500,000 from the EDA, in order to create what is now known as a Small Business Revolving Loan Fund (SBRLF). The SBRLF was designed to assist businesses that required funds ranging from $30,000 to $100,000, and could secure bank financing. Although the program was designed to assist women, minorities and the economically disadvantaged, many prospective entrepreneurs could not secure bank financing for the minimum low interest loan. Subsequently, in 1993, the City initiated the Micro Loan Program which would assist businesses with direct low interest loans between $5,000 and $25,000. The program was designed to create economic development opportunities for businesses that could not secure bank financing and residents of the local Housing Authority complexes who wanted to become self-sufficient. Since its inception, the Micro-Loan Program has assisted 39 businesses.
The Sterling R. Pruitt Activity Center is an example of an innovative project which the Mayor and City Council created to provide a positive alternative for the City of Beaumont's youth. The facility is located in close proximity to three Beaumont Housing Authority complexes. This state-of-the-art 24,000 square-foot activity center provides a structured, supervised environment for youth from low income households. In today's society, when drugs, gangs, violent crime, school drop-outs, AIDS, teenage pregnancies and suicides are rampant, it is important that the community provide youth development programs as a positive alternative. The facility provides services to 400-500 youth per day during the summer months. The City of Beaumont's Parks and Recreation Director, Luke Jackson, was the captain of the 1964 gold medal U.S. Olympic basketball team and a member of the 1967 NBA World Champion Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers. His office is in the Sterling Pruitt Activity Center and he serves as a positive role model for the youth.
The Sterling R. Pruitt Center utilized HUD grant funds at a cost of $2.4 million spread over a four-year period. In order to pay for the Pruitt Center, the City of Beaumont obtained a "Waiver of Pre-Agreement Costs for the Community Development Block Grant Program" from then-HUDAssistant Secretary Andrew Cuomo. This waiver allowed the City to finance the center over several years at a favorable interest rate (4.9 percent), thus saving substantial interest costs.
Beaumont Independent School District Joint Venture
The Mayor and City Council have provided leadership in inter-governmental cooperation with the Beaumont Independent School District. There are several examples of innovative projects that have resulted from this collaboration, including: 1) The construction of a home for a low income family by the BISD building trades students. This project was funded from the HUD grant program. 2) An after-school enrichment program at three schools in the Beaumont Independent School District. This activity was funded using the HUD grant program. 3) The proposed demolition of four closed school sites that are blighting their neighborhoods. The land will be used for eligible CDBG activities (e.g., parks, library, houses, etc.). Funding for this activity is from the HUD grant program.
Contact: Office of the Mayor, (409) 880-3716
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright ©1996, U.S. Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.