Como is a predominately African-American community that lives at or below the poverty line. It is located at the southern most corner of District 7 and butts up to the Camp Bowie Historic District at Camp Bowie Blvd and Horne Street.
Yesterday, civic leaders, spiritual leaders and families came together for a Rally Against Violence. A two-year old girl was drowned, a homicide, last month. In October, a 20 year old man was fatally shot.
There was a time in my life, as a young boy, my family lived in a small tenement in a predominately African-American neighborhood where I was the minority. You become deaf and blind. Deaf to the sounds of sirens and blind to the gangs and violence. I have visited almost every major church in Como. As a bald white man, I stick out. But no matter where I go, I am treated like family.
While they have experienced crime and violence, this is certainly no war zone. Como residents want the same as any other citizen of Fort Worth. They want a safe neighborhood. They want their children to be more prosperous than themselves. Como wants opportunities.
For the past seven years I have been actively involved in the community with issues regarding hunger, homelessness and helping working families that live at or below the poverty line. Issues that effect neighborhoods like Como are Payday loans. A loan for $300 can escalate to $2,500 as the interest percentage rate is not capped. But that is the market telling us there is a need that is not being fulfilled. Work with the United Way, local community banks and the FDIC are underway to provide micro-loans to $1,200 that allow these emergency loans without unrealistically high interest charges.
The poor pay more for car and home insurance because of where they live. They also pay more for food, as a grocery store is rarely nearby. Many residents may not have a vehicle, so they rely on local variety stores that charge higher prices with less quality for food and other essential items.
One of the programs we are very passionate about and help sponsor is the 501(c)3 Knowledge for Success’, New Quest program. This program helps take people off the welfare roles and move them to the tax roles. The dignity and self-respect that come to these first time business owners are beyond words. To have a positive change on one person’s life is amazing. To have a positive change on 100 people’s life is humbling.
Rally Against Violence
It was a fun afternoon for families. There were music, singing, hotdogs and a jump house. Everyone, no matter the age, was having fun. But there were somber moments too. A gray casket was brought out as a reminder of the senseless violence we see, not just in Como, but everywhere. Local spiritual leaders let prayer as the crowd held hands and listened to the minister’s words.
Home ownership is a big part of the solution in Como. Rent houses can often be drug houses. Home owners take pride in their house and property and would like more home owners, not rental drug houses.
I was very disappointed. Not with the rally, but with the indifference from the media. Not a single mainstream news organization was there. Not Star-Telegram. No local TV stations. No one.
This post is to share with you that Como wants what all of us want . . . opportunity, dignity and respect. Not one person has asked me how the city can give them money. They are looking for leadership. Leaders, like myself, that can work with agencies like the United Way, Habitat for Humanity and other organizations that provide opportunity, dignity and respect. Organizations like Knowledge for Success that help first time business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs create their sales and marketing plan.
The rebirth of this proud community will come from home ownership, economic development and partnership with agencies like those noted above.
Como helps in the revitalization efforts of the Camp Bowie Historic District. A safer and prosperous Como is a safer and prosperous Fort Worth.
Early Voting June 2nd – June 10th
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