BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Housing Authority of the City of Brownsville (HACB) is taking steps to improve International Boulevard and the Southmost area.

The HACB in collaboration with the city of Brownsville was awarded the Choice Neighborhood Grant of $450,000 in 2021 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The chief executive officer of the HACB, Carla Mancha, said this grant’s focus will be on the International Boulevard-Southmost communities and the Citrus Garden area.

The grant’s purpose is to fund planning for potential improvements to infrastructure or programs for the community.

“In order to have a successful transformation plan, we need to have engagement and we need to have participation,” said Mancha.

HACB, along with other volunteers, and city departments throw community events to learn more about the community’s needs.

Two were held on July 13 at Tony Gonzalez Park and Faulk Middle School.

“In the past two days, we had three different workshops. Yesterday we met with residents of the housing authority who live in the footprint of this grant,” said City Commissioner District 1 Nurith Galonsky. “This morning we met with children who presumably live in this area and we got to hear what they would like to see in their community.”

Galonksy and Mancha stress the importance of having the community’s involvement in the planning process.

“We want to make a transformation but there are also a lot of things people like about where they live that we also want to protect and maintain,” said Galonsky.

“This community meeting is going to be focused on vision, so we are asking the community, we’re asking the families, we’re asking the business owners that work in this area, what do you want your neighborhood to look like?” said Mancha.

Mariana Zolezzi, chief of staff at the city of Brownsville, said it takes multiple departments in the city to carry out the planning process.

“We have a steering committee in place that has been working hard, we have community ambassadors, community members from Victoria Gardens and the citrus annex, and others. We are very appreciative of everyone helping out,” said Zolezzi.

Officials said the next step is to apply for the implementation portion of the grant which can be up to $30 million in funding to implement foundational changes in housing and other activities.