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Sunnyside is outside of the 610 Loop and inside Beltway 8 off State Highway 288 south of Downtown Houston and is predominantly African American. The community's slogan is "Sunnyside Pride." Sunnyside included a landfill, an adjacent garbage incinerator, and several salvage yards; the incinerator has closed. The city of Houston describes Sunnyside's housing as "suburban-style." As of 2007 Sandra Massie-Hines is the honorary mayor of Sunnyside.
Sunnyside, the oldest African-American community in southern Houston, was first platted in 1912. When the community opened in the 1910s, H. H. Holmes, the founder, gave the land the name Sunny Side. By the 1940s area residents established a water district and a volunteer fire department. The City of Houston annexed Sunnyside in 1956.
From the 1980 U.S. Census to the 1990 Census, many African-Americans left traditional African-American neighborhoods like Sunnyside and entered parts of Southwest Houston. Sunnyside lost 30% of its population in the decade prior to August 20, 1992.
Between 1990 and 2000 the Hispanic population of Sunnyside increased by between 5 and 10 percent. As of January 2007, according to a Houston Chronicle article, Sunnyside has many issues with recreational drug use. Phencyclidine (PCP) is cited by the article as a drug popular in Sunnyside.
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)."
In 2010 a zip code including much of the Sunnyside area had 118 registered sex offenders; it has the highest concentration of sex offenders of any zip code without facilities designed to house registered sex offenders. While some other Houston areas have higher concentrations of sex offenders than Sunnyside, those areas have specific facilities housing sex offenders. Travis McGee, the president of the Sunnyside Civic Association, said that the Sunnyside area was "dumping field for anything that’s negative" and that he felt fear for area children.
According to the 1990 Census Sunnyside had 3,484 residents. 93.8% of them were African-American, 4.2% were Hispanic, and 2% were White, Asian, or other. The median household income was $12,477, compared to the City of Houston median of $26,621. 38.6% of Sunnyside residents lived below the poverty line.
Rafael Longoria and Susan Rogers of the Rice Design Alliance said that Sunnyside could be described as "rurban," a word coined in 1918 which describes an area with a mix of urban and rural characteristics. By 2007 new houses began to appear in the area. As of 2008 Sunnyside still has small churches, horse stalls, original frame houses, open ditches, uncontrolled garbage fires, and vacant lots, features which characterize many rural areas. By 2008 a major landfill and incinerator in the area had been converted into a park.
As of 2010 Sunnyside has two grocery stores within its area, which serve a regional population of 22,000. Toral Sindha, a nutritionist in the City of Houston's health department and the manager of the city's Community Garden Program, stated that because of this Sunnyside was "a true food desert" and that "healthy produce in fresh fruits and vegetables is not accessible in Sunnyside." Cindy George of the Houston Chronicle said during that year that in Sunnyside and several other communities in Houston, "an abundance of drive-throughs and convenience stores offer processed, fatty foods to residents." George added that Sunnyside's neighborhood stores "offer fewer healthy options of any kind."
The Houston Fire Department Station 55 Sunnyside is near Sunnyside at 11212 Cullen Boulevard at Selinsky Road. The station is within Fire District 46. The station opened in 1963 in what was then the southeasternmost area in the Houston city limits. The station had two facelifts and reopened in June 2000.
Houston City Council District D covers Sunnyside. As of 2008 Wanda Adams represents the district. The city operates the Sunnyside Multi-Service Center at 4605 Wilmington Street. The city multi-service centers provide several services such as child care, programs for elderly residents, and rental space. The multi-service center received damage from Hurricane Ike. In 2010 the city began to establish a community garden at the Sunnyside center to provide area residents with vegetables and other nutritious foods.
Sunnyside is located in District 146 of the Texas House of Representatives. As of 2008, Borris L. Miles represents the district. Sunnyside is within District 13 of the Texas Senate; as of 2008 Rodney Ellis represents that district.
Sunnyside is in Texas's 9th congressional district. As of 2008, Al Green represents the district. The closest United States Postal Service post office is the Martin Luther King Post Office at 9444 Cullen Boulevard.
Sunnyside residents expressed apathy towards the 1992 Republican National Convention, which was held in the Houston Astrodome; residents believed that it did not address issues pertinent to Sunnyside residents. Despite the neighborhood's proximity to the Astrodome, traffic from the convention did not lead to increase of patronage of area businesses.
Young Elementary opened as Sunny Side Elementary School in 1918; HISD renamed the school in June 1999 after Sunnyside residents petitioned for a renaming of the school. Young shares its campus with South Administrative Alternative Elementary and Drug-Free School. Worthing was built in 1958, and it opened on January 27, 1958. Prior to the opening of Yates, students went to Miller Junior High School and Yates High School. After Worthing received a new campus in 1962, Worthing moved out of its former campus, where Attucks opened.
Carnegie Vanguard High School, an HISD magnet school, was previously near Sunnyside. In 2008 Carnegie Vanguard was chosen as a National Blue Ribbon School. Carnegie was scheduled to move to the Fourth Ward.
KIPP: the Knowledge Is Power Program operates the KIPP Spirit College Preparatory School, a 5th-8th grade state charter school, near Sunnyside. It operates the KIPP Sunnyside High School near Sunnyside. In addition it plans to open KIPP Zenith Academy at 3730 South Acres, near Sunnyside.
Pro-Vision All Male Middle Charter School, relocated to the Sunnyside area on November 2008. Pro-Vision was the first all male middle charter school in the State of Texas. Pro-Vision All Male Middle Charter School was established in 1995. Pro-Vision serves grades 5th - 8th.
A Kindergarten through 5 Roman Catholic school called St. Philip Neri School, of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, is in the area. It closed in Spring 2009. The school was consolidated with St. Peter the Apostle Middle School.
The W. L. D. Johnson Neighborhood Library of Houston Public Library is located at 3517 Reed Road. The library was named after W.L.D. Johnson, Sr., a man who raised funds for the purchase of the Carnegie Colored Library and served on the board of directors of that library.
The city operates the Sunnyside Park and the Sunnyside Community Center at 3502 Bellfort Boulevard. The park and the community center include a playground, an outdoor basketball pavilion, a 0.48 miles (0.77 km) hike and bicycle trail, lighted tennis courts, an indoor gymnasium, weight rooms, meeting rooms, a lighted athletics field, and a swimming pool. The community celebrates the "Chocolate Bayou" festival annually. Sunnyside is included in the service area of the Sam Houston Area Council Boy Scouts W.L. Davis District.
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