City Seeks Input of Needs and Community Leaders Oblige
HOUSTON: This past Saturday, at a meeting of a different type which solicited input, selected leaders of the Indian community met with Dr. Noelle Bezette of the University of Houston Downtown and her associate Sacha Lazzare to give their wish-list of services and amenities that the City of Houston could provide. About 20 people attended the early morning meeting held on February 11 at India House and facilitated by community activist Sam Merchant.
As Bezette pointed out, the input from various communities will become part of a report to the City Of Houston’s Mayor’s Advisory Council for Immigrant and Refugee Services, which will provide guidance to other City departments on how to allocate their resources and budgets. “At the root of this is to understand how the immigrant populations would like to see integration with the City of Houston,” explained Bezette.
There was a strong objection on the immigrant groups being lumped together with the refugees as the needs of each are different and Bezette said she would certainly escalate this concern to Terence O’Neill, Division Manager of the Office of International Communities at the City of Houston.
Over the past two years, the City has been a destination for the resettlement of 5,000 Burmese refugees, in addition to the 6,000 from Bhutan and numerous more from Iraq, Somalia, Mexico, Central and South America. Apart from these, the communities considered for inclusion in the report were chosen from the latest demographic data identifying the largest immigrant groups.
After introductions, the group broke down into smaller groups of twos and asked each other questions from a list of guidelines. Answers were then discussed by the entire group and salient ones made it onto sheets that were pasted on the walls.
After a light lunch catered by Udipi Café, the group continued with breakout sessions and general discussions. Bezette said she hoped that many of the ideas would move forward and become institutionalized within the framework of City policies and plans for neighborhoods.