Hiram Clarke, Houston
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (February 2014)|
The community originally housed middle class white people. Many of the white people worked in the Texas Medical Center. White people left, and racial and ethnic minorities replaced them. Many black people moving from decrepit inner city communities like the Fifth Ward settled Hiram Clarke. Hispanic immigrants also settled; many initially shared apartments, and later occupied single-family houses once they saved enough money. Stephen Klineberg, a Rice University sociology professor, stated that the new residents, in close proximity to wealthier areas like Meyerland, are able to observe but not partake in the affluence of the areas.
In 1998 the area advocacy group South Houston Concerned Citizens Coalition received nonprofit status, so it could apply for grants to fund neighborhood projects and organize homebuyer fairs and community festivals.
The ZIP code 77085, which covers an area similar to a triangle, roughly bounded by U.S. Highway 90A (South Main), Hiram Clarke Road, and Beltway 8 (Sam Houston Tollway), saw the number of population rise to over 200% of its original population, between 2000 and 2010. Carol Christian of the Houston Chronicle said that the Windsor Village United Methodist Church was a primary factor.
The Hiram Clarke Civic Club serves portions of the area. The group's boundaries are West Airport Boulevard, Hiram Clarke Road, Landmark Street, and West Orem Drive. It has two subdivisions, with almost 1,200 households living in them. As of 2003 it had 175 members who paid dues. Matt Schwartz of the Houston Chronicle said "Even with dues of $50 a year, enforcing restrictions with letters from attorneys or lawsuits can quickly drain resources." One of the subdivisions it represents is Brentwood.
Other subdivisions in the Hiram Clarke area include:
Hiram Clarke is 5 miles (8.0 km) southwest of Reliant Stadium and Reliant Park, about a 13 minute commute. Most of the houses in the wider area were developed in the 1960s. Mimi Swartz of Texas Monthly said in 2006 that, compared to Meyerland, Hiram Clarke was "a world away from its comforts" and that "the ranch houses were much smaller, the windows had bars, and weeds choked the front yards."
Government and infrastructure
Residents are a part of the City of Houston Central Southwest Super Neighborhood, which has a coverage area of 12,760 acres (5,160 ha). Its boundaries are U.S. Route 90A and Holmes Road on the north, Beltway 8 on the south, Texas State Highway 288 to the east, and Holmes Road to the west. It became a super neighborhood around 1999. It has forty separate neighborhoods.
The Houston Police Department serves Hiram Clarke through the Southwest Patrol Division. The Hiram Clarke Storefront is a part of the Southwest Patrol District. The South Houston Concerned Citizens Coalition had lobbied for the city to add a substation.
The City of Houston operates the Hiram Clarke Multi Service Center. The 42,000-square-foot (3,900 m2) facility is located on an 8-acre (3.2 ha) site. Originally named the South Post Oak Multi-Service Center, it had a price tag of $10 million. It was scheduled to open at the end of 2008. Mayor of Houston Bill White, other city politicians, and other community figures attended the groundbreaking ceremony on Friday October 12, 2007. It was the City of Houston General Services Department's pilot project in combining several municipal functions in one site, lowering construction, design, and land acquisition expenses.
The city government designed the facility so it would get Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. To do this, the city installed low flow plumbing, roof overhangs, a metal roof, and high performance windows. The windows reduce heat absorption and allow natural light to enter the building. The complex includes a library facility, the Vinson library, a Head Start Center, office space for nonprofit organizations, an auditorium, youth program areas, elderly program areas, and a resource room. Sheila Savannah, the bureau chief of the City of Houston Department of Health and Human Services, said that the demographics of Hiram Clarke, with its mix of families and older, long-time inhabitants, made the community well-suited for a multi-service center.
Harris County Precinct 7 Constable patrols the community.
Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) operates the Hiram Clarke Bus Operating Facility. When METRO received a $15.5 federal fund package for transit upgrade, METRO announced that it will spend $8 million to complete renovations on the Hiram Clarke and Kashmere bus operating facilities.
METRO also operates the Hiram Clarke Transit Center. Several intersecting routes meet at the transit center. The METRO hired Del E. Webb Construction Services, a Phoenix, Arizona-based company to build the transit center. In the northern hemisphere spring of 1983, the staff of METRO examined the plans for the construction, then in-progress, and recommended a series of changes. METRO said that its recommendations would, over a period of 30 years, save $6 million. But because METRO demanded the changes, Webb had to perform work out of sequence, costing the company time and money. Webb said that the move forced $3.2 million in additional expenses on the company. About $700,000 of that figure would have gone to subcontractors working for Webb. METRO and Webb entered a legal dispute, which lasted three years until 1986, when METRO paid a $1.8 million settlement to Webb. In 1986, due to financial issues, METRO said that it was scaling back its plans for the transit center, then a planned project, due to financial issues at METRO.
Vince Young, an American football player, described the area as "a real foul neighborhood." Chip Brown of The Dallas Morning News described the area as being the "mean streets." Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News described Hiram Clarke as "run-down" and "drug-infested". Jennifer Floyd Engel of the Fort Worth Star Telegram referred to Weiss's assessment and added that Hiram Clarke was "written off as ghetto by almost everybody else." Jessica Garrison of CSTV said that Hiram Clarke was "one of Houston's toughest neighborhoods."
Vince Young added that "There may have been gangs, drugs and crime in my neighborhood. But we all had each other's back. It was always Hiram Clarke versus somebody else. When I was younger, it was either, 'You gonna hang with the guys or we're going to beat you every day.' That made me the physical guy I am now."
Around 1989 a haircut popular among youths in the area was called the "Hiram Clarke," after Hiram Clarke Road. The haircut features a narrow path etched on the head in a long, straight line. Ananiaz Johnson, a 1989 graduate of James Madison High School quoted in a Houston Chronicle article, said that "It's named after our area because it's popular here. Generally people from this neighborhood have that part. It probably originated here, and Shuntel popularized it."  Johnson referred to Shuntel Coco, a Houston Community College School of Cosmetology student. Shea Serrano of the Houston Press said that the rapper Big Mello was famous for "repping Hiram Clarke in the 90's[...]"
Elementary schools serving portions of the Hiram Clarke area include Grissom Elementary School, Hobby Elementary School, Petersen Elementary School, and Jean Hines-Caldwell Elementary School.
Dick Dowling Middle School is located in the Hiram Clarke area. As of 2009, 99% of the student body consists of racial and ethnic minorities. Madison High School is located in Hiram Clarke and serves residents of the Hiram Clarke area.
Before the opening of Hines-Caldwell, Red Elementary School served a section of the Hiram Clarke area.
Residents are also zoned to the Houston Community College system.
The Houston Public Library operates the Vinson Neighborhood Library at the Hiram Clarke Multi-Service Center. The library has traditional library services, a public reading room, an internet café, and HPL Express library services. The library was originally located at 3100 Fuqua; the city relocated it to the multi service center, where the library space had doubled in size from its previous location.
Parks and recreation
The area constituted San Jacinto Girl Scout Council's Sunshine Service Unit, but will combine with a Southeast Houston service unit (Sunnyside's Edgewood Service Unit)- to be called the South Bridge Community in 2013.
- Wanda Adams (member of the Houston City Council)
- Lawrence Allen (member of the Texas Board of Education, son of Texas House of Representatives member Alma Allen)
- Vince Young
- Big Mello
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