Crime statistics show that Southwest Houston neighborhoods are among the city’s safest, and Houston City Councilman Larry Green credits the work of residents who are engaged in the community.
“We have some challenges. There will always be criminals out there. But I think we have systems in place, organizations in place like Southwest Houston 2000, to help address them,” Green recently told the group’s safety and security committee.
Formed more than two decades ago, Southwest Houston 2000 Inc. is a coalition of civic and religious groups, nonprofits and businesses that works to improve quality of life in the region. Crime prevention is a key focus for its safety committee.
Green said his District K, which extends from Braeswood Boulevard into Fort Bend County between Almeda Road and Gessner, ranked as third safest in Houston in “Part I” crimes, behind District E, which includes Clear Lake and Kingwood, and District G, which takes in River Oaks and the Memorial area. Part I crimes include violent and property crimes such as murder, rape, aggravated assault, burglary, robbery and theft.
District K had 10,156 Part I crimes in 2013, compared to 9,740 in 2012, the data shows. District E Part I crimes fell 2.1 percent to 6,859 in 2013, and District G had 9,973, 1.1 percent less than in 2012.
“Obviously, we want to have the lowest crime rate,” Green said.
“It’s happening,” said Perry Radoff, who chairs the SWH 2000 safety committee.
Radoff routinely collects data on police calls for service to local apartment complexes, where many of the area’s crimes reported. From 2011 to 2013, the number of calls continued to trend downward at most properties, his most recent report shows.
“Our folks are in better communication with Houston Police Department than ever before,” says Andy Teas, vice president of public affairs for Houston Apartment Association.
A recent training session provided by the Blue Star program to reduce crime at rental properties was filled to capacity by apartment staff members, he said.
Blue Star, a joint effort by HPD and HAA, also requires multifamily properties to comply with an environmental safety survey and to host a safety social involving residents.
HPD has cracked down on high-crime properties, putting in place remedial action plans where necessary, Teas said.
The Brays Oaks Management District helps area apartment owners and managers connect to HAA and similar services, including tenant screening.
Last month, the district’s Richard Rodriquez unveiled a program that will recognize properties focused on safety and crime prevention.
Teas said the improved economy has helped. With fewer vacancies, apartment managers can be more discriminating about whom they rent to.
“A rising tide lifts all boats, and I think that’s very true,” Teas said.
But still, Green agreed with Radoff that more work is needed to address area poverty and its impact on youths.
“It’s very difficult for us to change what happens in those households,” Green said.
“The only thing we can do is make sure that, when they come out, the community is safe and able to provide resources so the kids have an outlet.”
Residents in the area, including some on the committee, are advocating for more park space through the Houston Parks and Recreation Department’s master parks survey process.
Green said the challenge continues to be finances.
“There still is this huge chasm in regards to the haves and the have-nots,” said Green, who is focused on bringing resources and activities to his district, including afterschool programs through churches and community centers.
“I look for suggestions about systems or programs we need that we don’t already have,” he said.