Grantee Spotlight

Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation


Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation (FWCRC) is celebrating 30 years of community development! The organization was founded in 1989 by Fifth Ward residents, civic leaders, ministers, business owners and educators. According to the organization’s mission statement, FWCRC is dedicated to the collaborative fostering of holistic community development.  FWCRC seeks to enhance the quality of life for individuals and families in the Fifth Ward, where 36.4% of families live below the poverty line. The organization attracts local investments, encourages commercial and business development, coordinates government and public services, and offers a sense of community for thousands of families.

Over the past 30 years, FWCRC has been an integral part of the historic Fifth Ward revitalization process by serving as a key informational resource for potential home buyers and enhancing community life through projects like its purchase and reopening of the historic Deluxe Theater. Once a hoping night spot, the new Deluxe Theater now serves as a community and performing visual arts facility for entertainment, education, and economic empowerment. Revitalization efforts in the community expanded when the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded FWCRC an Our Town grant. The prestigious grant established the Fifth Ward community as the first African American cultural arts district in Texas. The Our Town grant has enabled FWCRC to maintain the community’s arts identity.

According to a 2018 report from Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, all neighborhoods on the east side of Houston, including the Fifth Ward, are in danger of gentrification in the near future. Gentrification is the rapid transformation of neighborhoods from low-value to high-value, and it often includes the displacement of lower income and long-time residents. FWCRC has attempted to combat this by purchasing empty lots to develop affordable housing for low income families. FWCRC’s CEO Kathy Payton stated, “He who controls the land can control what gets developed there. We have a social interest that other developers do not prioritize.” Essentially, FWCRC is trying to help the community retain control over its future. Purchasing and developing land in the neighborhood for affordable housing will give many long-term residents the opportunity to remain and contribute to the community.    

Currently, FWCRC has developed over 2.4 acres of land on Lyons Avenue into 24 four bedroom townhomes. These townhomes serve as home ownership options for low-to-moderate income families in the neighborhood. Along with the land on Lyons Avenue, FWCRC currently holds over 13 lots to develop for affordable sale or rental units for families. FWCRC is moving quickly to raise as much capital as it can to purchase more lots in the Fifth Ward to preserve for affordable housing. Given the Fifth Ward’s proximity to downtown, FWCRC is competing for these lots with for-profit developers. It truly is a race against the clock for the organization to secure as much land as possible before developers begin to transform the community.

In addition to its work to preserve land for affordable single-family homes, FWCRC supports low income renters through the creation of multi-family rental properties, such as its current plan to redevelop the historic St. Elizabeth Hospital into an affordable 110 unit complex. FWCRC sees this as a way to restore some of the housing lost in the Fifth Ward due to Hurricane Harvey, which has significantly tightened the rental market in the neighborhood.

FWCRC’s efforts to reduce residential displacement in the neighborhood will have a lasting impact on present and future generations of the Fifth Ward. Residential displacement is the process by which a household is forced to move from its residence or is prevented from moving into a neighborhood that was previously accessible to them because of gentrification or other conditions beyond their control. Residential displacement is traumatic and can have serious health implications for families.  Deteriorating health and residential displacement were found to have a positive correlation. A 2017 study analyzing the impact of residential displacement . found that displaced individuals had a greater number of emergency department visits, hospitalizations and mental health visits for up to 5 years post-displacement (Lim, et al, 2017). FWCRC is working with families to reduce residential displacement through active investment and development in the historic Fifth Ward.

Rockwell Fund dollars are used to  support the real estate acquisition activities of FWCRC to preserve affordable housing in the neighborhood. According to FWCRC, Rockwell funding has been instrumental in rapidly acquiring empty lots and in attracting additional local and national investors to this effort. Rockwell is proud to support the FWCRC and its work to  ensure that the residents of Fifth Ward have access to affordable housing in their communities.


In Fifth Ward


of families live below the poverty line.