The Future of Houston Is on Hillcroft Now

THE FUTURE OF HOUSTON IS ON HILLCROFT NOW Map Showing Percentage of Foreign Born Residents, in Harris County, 2009 to 2013, According to American Community SurveyArmed with a few stats, Monica Rhor takes a look at Hillcroft Ave, ground zero for the Great Houston Influx:More than 1 million immigrants — one of every four residents — call Harris County home, and the percentage holds true across 10 surrounding counties. From 2000 to 2010, Houston gained 400,000 foreign-born residents, more than any other U.S. city except New York. Last year, the county received 4,818 refugees from 40 different countries, the most of any county in Texas. The newcomers have done more than shift our demographics. They have created a metropolis where one-third of business owners are foreign-born, where the number of Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus has tripled in the last three decades, where more than 100 languages are spoken by students attending Houston public schools.” Hillcroft, of course is only the area of greatest concentration: “Immigrant communities are dispersed across Harris County — from the southwest side to The Woodlands, from Spring to Pasadena. Over the last two decades, even as the number of foreign-born residents has increased, segregation levels have decreased. Two out of every five people speak a language other than English.” [Houston Chronicle] Map: John D. Harden

31 Comment

  • 1 in 4 are immigrants here in Harris county – and they pay no taxes to pay for evrything everyone else pays for? And no one is upset by this? And those people are having children in Texas which are US citizens who grow up to vote and republicans aren’t concerned about the future Texas voters?

  • Me me, I assume you are a troll because you can’t possibly believe that the article in question was discussing only illegal immigrants who work for cash under the table and therefore don’t pay taxes. If you read the article and still believe that, bless your heart.

  • Houston: the dumping grounds for “refugees” wink wink and sanctuary city for illegal aliens.

  • @Me me, wut? There’s a huge difference between legal and illegal immigration, I don’t think anyone has a problem with legal immigrants who went through proper process and approval. They also do pay taxes via legal employment and property taxes (even through rental rates).

    If you’re referring to illegal immigrants, you should know they prefer to be called Unregistered Democrats.

  • @me me – Before you get your panties in a wad, realize that many of these immigrants are here legally and do in fact pay all forms of taxes. Also, they are from all over the world, including Europe, not just Latin America. A large percent work in the oil and gas industry and came here sponsored by a company. At my oil company, the halls are lined with “foreign born” people here on a visa or green card.

  • They pay all the same local taxes everybody else does, since Texas doesn’t have an income tax, making money in cash won’t make much difference.

    Also, 1 in 4 are immigrants, not necessarily illegal immigrants.

    Reading your comment again I guess you were joking.

  • Who said they pay no taxes? GTFOH

  • @Me me – that has to be the fastest rush to judgment I’ve seen on this website, and considering the outrage over tree cutting and lack of ground floor retail, that’s saying something. Time to turn off Fox News.

  • @ Me me: talk to your congressmen about doing something other then blocking an Immigration reform. He or she should be well aware of the obvious that you just stated. “They” are already here contributing to the economy as much as they’re taking from it…

  • I don’t see Hillcroft as anything to celebrate. It looks like a third world hell hole.

  • Yet “time to turn off fox news” is not a rush to judgment. hypocrite alert.

  • lhd, “hellhole” has been a loving self-ascribed nickname for Houston for decades. There was even a sampler album of local bands put out in 1995 called Hellhole. Hillcroft to me looks like the American dream that — unless you’re a Native American — some ancestor in your lineage once lived so that you could sit at a comfy desk bitching about aesthetics on the internet.

  • Still seeing that white people “Arrow of insertion” into the inner loop

  • of course foreigners are on the rise; considering the state of local schools we have no choice but to ship in educated talent from elsewhere. and they of course love the low taxes that allow them to ship their kids off to private schools.

  • @LHD. I do see Hillcroft as something to celebrate, but I don’t think anyone does – and that’s part of why I’m frustrated enough to leave for Sugar Land.
    Nobody here is interested in the real estate news from Hillcroft. Five firefighters died when the Southwest Inn burned down, around the corner from Hillcroft, and I had to remind Swamplot to cover it. There’s a mysterious old car dealership on the same stretch of road. I wanted to know more about the history of that place – I was insulted for not already knowing. And that’s just on Swamplot. Consider Lee High School: the school has an amazingly diverse student body; but our education system sees this kind of diversity as a liability. It brings down test scores.
    It doesn’t stop there. I got into it with David Crossley over the Complete Streets initiative and the lack of concern for Hillcroft (among other streets). There are sidewalks on Hillcroft that aren’t much more than 30″ wide. People have died on Hillcroft thanks to impassable sidewalks. Is it really right that we spend so much money to build grand tree lined boulevards in Midtown when the sidewalks on Hillcroft aren’t even accessible?
    And don’t get me started on the quality if buildings (especially housing) in the area. Just because it’s better than a mud-floored hut in Bombay slum, doesn’t mean it’s up to Houston’s building code requirements. Alas, if I bring it up, certain people call me a racist.
    Yes, I think it will be good for me to move out to Fort Bend County. I’ll at least be able to stop banging my head against the wall….

  • @fudge. No. None of my ancestors came from anything resembling the star wars bar scene babel of today’s Hillcroft.

  • “Yes, I think it will be good for me to move out to Fort Bend County. I’ll at least be able to stop banging my head against the wall….”
    mind-blowing statement, i take it seppuku was next on your list? unfortunately I’m sure the city has much better luck/profit margins hounding the likes of Cody then they do any owners of the massive complexes in forlorn areas.

  • Good grief–if Hillcroft isn’t representative of the “American Dream”, I don’t know what is. The area teems with independent locally owned businesses–from clothing to jewelry to food stuffs and everything in between.
    True Mom and Pop shops that aren’t scared of competing with Wal-Mart or some equally generic big box retailer.

    And to ZAW’s point, this area is equally deserving of the types of projects the TIRZ generally promote whether WASP’s support it or not. And David Crossley is a condescending so and so .

  • Yeah, Joel, but it’s not the City of Houston’s profit margins that are doing it. It’s that code violations are complaint driven, and people living in Montrose and EADO complain; while people living along Hillcroft don’t. This isn’t the best way to do things. It would be better if multifamily units were subjected to periodic inspections regardless of where they’re located. But alas, no dice.

  • As a person of some South Asian descent, I have to say that Hillcroft is in no way whatsoever the American dream. People own the businesses there because it is cheap, that is all. Those business owners take their money to Sugar Land, from the owner of Kirti Jewellers to the owner Himalaya Restaurant. All of them have bars on their windows, and half the jewelry stores have been robbed in 2012. Those ‘Mama & Papa’ businesses are all either South Asian clothing stores, South Asian jewelry stores, or South Asian restaurants/grocers. The people who do business there see it as a dump, and ensure that their kids go to Clements or Austin in Fort Bend.
    When some of them improve the space outside their barred windows, and build a community there, then it will be the American dream.

  • Excellent point, New Houstonian. I said as much in my comment on the original article.
    That said, I do wish local business owners would take more of an interest in improving Hillcroft. There was an effort to establish a desperately needed Management District for Gulfton, but they couldn’t find board members. They backed off and are now trying to get the area annexed into the Sharpstown Management District, which is facing opposition from people over there.
    Spike Lee asked “why does it take an influx of white New Yorkers in the south Bronx, in Harlem, in Bed Stuy, in Crown Heights for the facilities to get better? ” he could have just as easily asked “why does it take an influx of white Houstonians in a neighborhood to get the facilities to improve?” Or he could have talked about Chicago or Los Angeles – it’s the same question everywhere. And the answer is things like the failure of the Gulfton Management District. Change needs to be pushed along at the local level, by the people who are already there. When it doesn’t, that’s when a bunch of white gentrifiers swoop in and start the change themselves. (Either that or the neighborhood stays in neutral, with shitty schools, blight, crime, and all of that).

  • Thanks, NewHoustonian, for the civil and needed corrective to the ridiculous trend of referring to whatever the status quo is, as the “American Dream.” Possibly it’s better than the prior period in which use of the term was only permitted ironically, but if so, not by much and a little too late.

  • Kebabs and garlic sauce on every corner, and we can rename anything for anyone.. We’ve got a China town, Little Vietnam, and now the Gandhi district, shoot even a German town strangely with no Germans. I kind of like the diversity of the area especially food wise, but there is a lot of improvements that need to be made, especially with regards to cleaning up the area of trash, run down buildings, please leave your slums in your country of birth we don’t need them here..

  • Immigrant-run small business is the definition of the American dream. Some of you are easily swayed by an anonymous internet person who “is of some South Asian descent” and therefore professes to know that the business owners all don’t care about the community in which their businesses are located (a position that makes no sense).

    Memo to NewHoustonian: I went to Clements HS. All of the kids’ parents are some manner of petroleum engineer, doctors, or lawyers. None of them own fledgling storefronts on Hillcroft.

  • @newhoustonian Please don’t speak for everyone, the place may be dumpy looking, but it definitely is the American dream for some. I suggest you see the world outside of your suburban confines. The area may not be aesthetically pleasing, but it’s a god send to refugees fleeing war torn countries.

  • So, Robertrulez, as long as the housing along Hillcroft is an improvement over a mud-floored hut in a war torn country, it’s the American Dream, and we can rest on our laurels?
    I’m not sure I believe you. And I’m glad that most people don’t. As a modern, Western nation we should provide much better for our poorest residents.

  • Who cares if it is somebody’s American dream? Clean the frickin’ street up. We need better people on Hillcroft who aren’t willing to settle for turning the area into a dump.

  • Perhaps America has more than one dream.

  • Nothing is going to happen until all the nasty subsidized(vouchers0 apartments are demolished.

  • @zaw I completely agree with you that we should provide more but what those people have is a god send in relative terms. The schools make suck in our perspective, but they’re excellent compared to their home nation and those students learn to become bilingual. The housing may suck but even the scuzziest of places have air conditioning which is a luxury in developing nations. Most of all, those people have security that isn’t present in Latin America, Africa, or the Middle East. It’s all relative.

  • @Semper Fudge: Don’t patronise me. I know the owners, and a I know where they live. They don’t give two hoots about the area, and have no shame in the fact that Hillcroft is the Houston image associated with South Asians.
    Also, I know FBSID pretty well, as I lived there for a short time when I was younger. You are right about Clements, but considering that there are fewer than 100 businesses, you are hardly going to be swamped with their kids. Also, doesn’t that prove my point? The fact that South Asian professionals didn’t want to live near the amenities that cater to them, but instead chose a safer, cleaner and more-educated area? Of course, today there are plenty of Hillcroft-esque branches and businesses in Sugar Land.

    @Robertrulez: I never claimed to speak for everyone, but the fact that the area remains a dump proves it is not the american dream. Which one of those business owners actually lives in the area? Aisha? Chef Kaiser? The Shenoys? These are not refugees from wartorn countries, or the fortunate poor. They emigrated with enough capital or family backing to start a business, and now are well-established. They can make sure that the area outside their barred windows is a better reflection on their community.
    Also, where do you get off inventing the accusation that I live in a suburban bubble? Most of my time in Texas has been spent in Houston’s core, but I have lived in the suburbs as well, which is exactly why I say what I do.