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Acres Homes is a 9 square miles (23 km2) community in northwest Houston, Texas, United States north of the 610 loop. Nicknamed the 44,because of the local bus route, Acres Homes is located in the northwest portion of the city, the area is loosely bound by Pinemont Drive to the south, North Shepherd Drive to the East, Gulf Bank to the north, and Antoine to the west.
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Acres Homes was established during World War I, when Houston landowners began selling homesites in the area that were large enough to contain small gardens and raise chickens or farm animals. These large areas were often divided by the acre and not by the plot, hence the name "Acres Homes". The farm capabilities of the home sites attracted many rural settlers, who dug their own wells, and built small, sanitary houses. Kristen Mack of the Houston Chronicle said that Acres Homes was originally marketed as "a bit of genteel country with quick and easy access to the city." The community was also touted as a place where African Americans could own houses and land instead of being in more dense urban areas. At one time it was the largest unincorporated African-American community in the Southeastern United States.
As time went on, the conditions began declining due to several decades of neglect. As the rural settlers moved out of their dilapidated homes, realtors began marketing the area, largely to African Americans, as a suburban area which was not far from the city. In reality, it was a heavily wooded, sparsely settled slum without adequate transportation or educational facilities. The City of Houston annexed about 725 acres (293 ha) of land in the Acres Homes area in 1967. In 1974 the city annexed another 1,469 acres (594 ha) of Acres Homes territory. Mack said that the appeal of Acres Homes ended around the 1970s.
Before it was annexed by the city of Houston, Acres Homes was considered to be the largest unincorporated African American community in the Southern United States. The area's location close to Garden Oaks - a primarily working-class white neighborhood in the 1960s and 1970s- birthed racial tensions in north Houston during the racial equality movement of the time. The community now includes a combination of large areas of pine forests with a scattering of homes: small tract homes built in standard suburban subdivisions, and large comfortable homes on well-maintained wooded lots. There is little commercial or industrial development. It covers 5,733 acres (23.20 km2).
On August 30, 2007, the Houston Chronicle published an article about a syphilis outbreak in Houston. Marlene McNeese-Ward, the Houston Health Department chief of HIV/STD and Viral Hepatitis Prevention, stated "We're really looking at Acres Homes especially, and Sunnyside, but there's not too many ZIP codes... where we're not seeing any (cases)." The area is a well known high crime area, with about 13 homicides reported in 2008.
The community has 9 square miles (23 km2) of land. Acres Homes had 8,548 housing units in 2002; 31% were rental units. Rafael Longoria and Susan Rogers of the Rice Design Alliance said that the layout of Acres Homes could be described as "rurban," a word coined in 1918 which describes an area with a mix of urban and rural characteristics. Undeveloped land permeates Acres Homes in a checkerboard-like pattern.
In 2002 Kristen Mack of the Houston Chronicle said "Fairly or not, Acres Homes has become synonymous with "urban blight" in Houston" and that Acres Homes "can best be described as a bit schizophrenic." As of 2002 the community had many shotgun houses; many residents rent them from absentee landlords. Many acres of land in the community are empty. Most areas of the community have small wood frame houses described by Mack as "ramshackle," while some areas have large houses described by Mack as "comfortable." In 2002, many of the formerly large properties had been sectioned off, and horses were commonplace in the neighborhood. Most areas in Acres Homes had no curbs, no sidewalks, and no storm drains. Deep ditches lined many of the streets. The area does not have a lot of commercial or industrial development. As of 2008 Acres Homes has the largest concentration of closed landfills in Houston, including permitted and unpermitted ones.
According to Sammie Mae Ford, a resident of Acres Homes quoted in the Houston Chronicle, in the 1920s most of the residents had gardens in their yards and raised chickens and hogs. Ford described Acres Homes as "like it was the country" and "a place where people had to help each other."
In rap media Acres Homes is nicknamed the "44," pronounced "fo-fo." The name originates from the #44 Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas (METRO) line that goes through Acres Homes.
The city operates the Acres Homes Multi-Service Center at 6719 West Montgomery Road. The city multi-service centers provide several services such as child care, programs for elderly residents, and rental space.
After the city annexed portions of Acres Homes beginning in 1971, it began installing sewer and water lines. Some sparsely developed areas and some surrounding areas remained without city services; private companies install services in the surrounding areas.
In February 2000 the Acres Homes Super Neighborhood was officially recognized. The boundaries of the Acres Homes Super Neighborhood are Texas State Highway 249, Pinemont, North Shepherd, and the White Oak Bayou. Because the Acres Homes Citizens Council already existed, much of the groundwork for the Acres Homes Super Neighborhood had already been established before its formation. In 2000 Michael Thibodeaux, the president of the super neighborhood, said that the citizens council "is pretty much almost the super neighborhood."
Beulah Shephard, described by Kristen Mack of the Houston Chronicle as the "matriarch" of Acres Homes, said in 2002 that the Harris County, which provided services to residents before the Houston annexation, provided better services than the city.
As of 2002 Acres Homes has 16 civic associations that serve portions of the community.
According to the 2000 census, the current population of Acres Homes Super Neighborhood #6 is 23,512.
|Race and Hispanic origin||Acres Homes Data||% of Area Pop.||Houston City Data|
|American Indian (non-Hispanic)||14||-%||3,234|
|Hispanic (of any race)||2,432||10.3%||730,865|
|Native Hawaiian (non-Hispanic)||-||-%||680|
|Two or More (non-Hispanic)||146||0.6%||23,830|
|Age Group||Acres Homes Data||% of Area Pop.||Houston City Data|
|Under 5 Years||1,794||7.6%||160,797|
|5 - 17 Years||5,337||22.7%||375,861|
|18 - 65 Years||13,318||56.6%||1,252,908|
|65 and Over||3,023||12.8%||164,065|
In 1997 37% of the residents had an average annual household income below $15,000.
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The eastern part of the community is located in the Houston Independent School District (HISD). The HISD portion is divided by Highland Heights, Wesley, and Osborne Elementary schools. All HISD Acres Homes residents are zoned to Williams Middle School in Acres Homes. All HISD area residents are served by Booker T. Washington High School in the Independence Heights community. Prior to Houston ISD's 2005 reorganization, the Acres homes Administrative Division, headquartered in Wesley Elementary School, helped manage the area elementary and middle schools.
In February 2010 HISD opened the High School Ahead Academy (HSAA) in Acres Homes. It is a school which allows over-age middle school students to rapidly accelerate through school so they can catch up. It is located in the former Hohl Elementary School campus.
The western part of Acres Homes is in the Aldine Independent School District.
In 1977 the Federal Government of the United States placed on Aldine ISD, asking it to desegregate several majority Black schools. Enacted in 1978, the plan required Aldine ISD to redraw the attendance boundaries of its schools so that no more than 30% of the students of each school were African-American. As a result, three schools in Acres Homes became 5-6 grade schools. Carver High School was no longer a zoned school and became a magnet school.
The Houston Community College serves the portions in Houston ISD.
Lone Star College System (formerly the North Harris Montgomery Community College District) serves the Aldine ISD portion. In 1972 residents of Aldine ISD and two other K-12 school districts voted to create the North Harris County College. The community college district began operations in the northern hemisphere fall of 1973.
The Victory Center of Lone Star College–North Harris is located in Acres Homes.