Business Wire

Freedmen’s Town Community Investment Initiative Launches

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HOUSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today, the Freedmen’s Town Community Investment Initiative launched with the goal of equitably revitalizing the once-thriving Black Houston community. The Initiative aims to increase affordable housing and commercial spaces, establish and fortify community-serving businesses, foster economic mobility, and preserve cultural landmarks in Freedmen’s Town.

Initiative leadership is working hand-in-hand with neighbors, ensuring that the efforts reflect the needs and aspirations of the Freedmen’s Town community today and into the future.

“Freedmen’s Town, Houston’s oldest Black settlement and a child of Juneteenth, was once a thriving place of possibility,” said Zion Escobar, founder and CEO of the Freedmen’s Town Community Investment Initiative. “Today, it remains a community of high potential that’s deserving of our collective investment. Our goal is to catalyze the economic and cultural revival of this historic neighborhood, ensuring its prosperity for generations to come.”

After emancipation was proclaimed in Texas on June 19, 1865, the formerly enslaved founded Freedmen’s Town, quickly turning it into a cultural center. By 1930, Freedmen’s Town was its own Black Wall Street, known for its successful businesses as well as popular restaurants and jazz clubs. Ultimately, redlining, extractive development, and the building of Interstate 45 through the community contributed to Freedmen’s Town’s decline.

This first-of-its-kind Initiative addresses the need for additional affordable housing and will restore homes that have been vacant for decades, allowing current residents to remain in Freedmen’s Town and displaced residents to return to the community.

The Initiative aims to strengthen the community’s connection to its legacy of excellence as a thriving entrepreneurial district and cultural mecca. Anticipated outcomes include increased community-serving businesses; the preservation of cultural landmarks; enhanced economic growth; and strengthened community pride and engagement.

The first pilot project spearheaded by the Initiative is the Victor Street Historic Rehab Project. This landmark effort will restore the last row of 10 iconic shotgun houses built in Freedmen’s Town in 1930. The Initiative will also add six new accessory dwelling units (ADUs), transforming Victor Street into a beacon of heritage and progress. The units are designed for families earning 30-80% of the area median income (AMI) and are backed by a 99-year deed-enforced affordability covenant.