INVISIBLE HOUSTON REVISITED POLICY SUMMIT AND BOOK PROJECT

Several of my colleagues and I are undertaking a follows up to the Invisible Houston: The Black Experience in Boom and Bust book that critically examined the major demographic, social, economic, and political factors some three decades after Houston was tagged the “golden buckle” of the Sunbelt in the late 1970s.

The project includes an Invisible Houston Revisited Policy Summit held at the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University in Houston on November 7, 2013. The one—day Summit is an interdisciplinary forum for scholars, researchers, practitioners, planners, educators, policy analysts, health professionals, elected officials, faith leaders and others from a wide array of professional fields who share an interest in policy actions needed to address social inequality using a holistic and cross-disciplinary approach.

The theme of the Summit focuses on coming to grips with how inequality, in all its multi-dimensional complexity, is produced in contemporary Houston. Using an equity lens, the Summit seeks to shed light on a number of questions: Is there an “Invisible Houston” today? What is the state of inequality (racial/ethnic, economic, environmental, health, housing, political, etc.) in Houston? To what extent has Houston closed the racial/ethnic divide and well-being gap over the past three decades?  How has access to opportunity trended during Houston’s boom and bust cycles? Now that Houston has regained its “boom-town” status, the question remains, how is this new prosperity distributed? How are benefits and costs distributed as Houston embarks on becoming a “greener,” more livable and sustainable city? What bold policy changes are needed to address current and emerging challenges facing Houston’s racially/ethnically diverse population? In addition to asking questions, the Summit participants are charged with exploring strategies and solutions going forward.

Our research team has also commissioned a series of policy papers that will form the basis for the summit discussion and later expanded into chapter-length papers for the Invisible Houston Revisited Book Project.  We expect to have the book manuscript to press in 2015.