Money Issues Force El Paso’s Segundo Barrio To Lose 100-Year-Old Community Center
The Houchen Community Center has been in Segundo Barrio for over 100 years, but it will close next Friday, September 11. That news has parents with kids in the day care scrambling for a new location to leave their kids.
Beginning in 1893, Houchen helped young immigrant girls learn about sanitation and health and cooking. Over the years, it became a settlement house, bilingual kindergarten, first-aid clinic and maternity hospital, and in the 1980s, added a daycare. The area used to be home to public housing and the families who lived there used the daycare. But, those housing faciliites now cater mostly to elderly residents, so much so that a neighborhood elementary school was recently closed as well.
Houchen officials say the changing demographics were also compounded by the loss of two huge grants. Ten paid employees, eight day care employees, one activity center employee and Houchen's Executive Director Kathy Jewell will all lose their jobs with the closure. There will still be programs at the Center, but they will be run by volunteers, and will not include a day care.
Houchen board members want to try and save the Center by putting in a community garden and cafe, and offering educational and exercise programs, something a recent survey showed residents wanted. Day care didn't make the list of wants.
It's not known when, or if, those programs will ever be offered at Houchen. Houchen officials say they are trying to change with the times and keep the Center open for another 100 years.