Hunger, housing, and a good friend’s legacy

23 Nov, 23

Dear Friends,

Each year around this time, I think about my friend and mentor, the late U.S. Rep. Mickey Leland, who would be turning 79 in a few days.

Mickey Leland championed the causes of poor and helpless people worldwide. He fought for affordable housing, universal access to health care, civil rights at home, and human rights abroad. He ultimately lost his life in a tragic accident while working to end hunger in Africa. I do not doubt that, if he were alive today, Mickey would be participating in some program to feed the less fortunate in Houston or some remote corner of the world.

While Mickey may be gone, his legacy lives on through our work. In Harris County, we are delivering hope through transformative investments in hunger and housing.

Ensuring everyone has a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home.

Over the next several years, our housing investments will amount to over $200 million to:

  • Enhance the health, safety, and resilience of existing homes.
  • Tackle the scarcity of affordable, stable housing.
  • Reduce evictions, foreclosures, and housing instability.

This year, Harris County has made significant investments toward affordable housing. Commissioners Court has committed $80 million in affordable rental housing projects to help add over 1,400 long-term affordable housing units. Commissioners Court also allocated $10 million toward home repair through new single-family reconstruction and repair programs. In Precinct One, the County invested over $7.2 million toward the Knowles-Rowland House Project, creating 31 new permanent supportive housing units for people experiencing homelessness, and $9 million toward New Hope Housing Ennis for affordable homes for seniors.

Fighting hunger with community partners.

Mickey Leland gave his life working to end hunger around the world, and in that spirit, I’m immensely proud of our work to end hunger here at home. I’m particularly proud of how we’ve used resources from the Biden-Harris Administration and the Harris County Healthy Food Financing Initiative, which increased the availability of fresh and nutritious food in underserved communities via funding innovative solutions through community partners.

These partnerships with Common Market, Urban Harvest, Small Places, and the Houston Food Bank have already served over 15,000 households. You can learn more about my office’s partnership with the Common Market via the video below:

Although there is much to be thankful for this time of year, we still have far to go in our national battle against homelessness and hunger:

Typically, Mickey spent this time of year challenging his friends and all who would listen to be as charitable as possible and reminding them that food availability is a luxury not to be taken for granted in a world where poverty overwhelms prosperity.

This holiday season, let’s make a place at the dinner table for those less fortunate than ourselves. I can think of no better tribute to Mickey Leland’s legacy.


Rodney Ellis