Revitalization Plan and Strategies aimed at the Chamizal and Lower Dyer Neighborhoods

The City of El Paso’s Department of Community and Human Development Neighborhood Services Division is aimed at revitalizing the neighborhoods of Chamizal and Lower Dyer. This $50 million, five-year makeover will not only physically improve the neighborhoods, but it will improve the neighborhoods’ quality of life. Money for the revitalization projects will not be diverted from other areas of the city, but from the Community Development Block Grant’s funds. The City will be aggressively seeking federal, state and private funds for those areas.

“In those areas, statistics show home-ownership rates and educational levels are lower than the rest of the city while poverty and crime rates are higher,” said Bill Lilly, director of the City’s Community and Human Development Department. In January, the neighborhood revitalization plans for Chamizal and Lower Dyer were presented to City Council and approved. They will now be presented to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “We are looking at $40 - $50 million going to those neighborhoods. We’re talking about federal, state and local funds and private investors who will want to come in after they see a concerted effort to improve these neighborhoods,” Lilly said.

The City plans a comprehensive strategy for revitalization that ranges from code enforcement, heightened law enforcement, addressing high rates of teen pregnancy, social issues, economic issues to making money available to residents for home improvements. “Why rehabilitate housing if you’re not going to fix the streets and sidewalks and address the social and criminal issues? That’s not revitalization. Revitalization is comprehensive – it’s not just about fixing a house” Lilly said.

Chamizal Neighborhood Revitalization Plan and Strategy refers to the area as one of the poorest and oldest in El Paso, where most of the homes date to the early 1900’s and are owned by absentee landlords. A lack of youth activities, dilapidated housing conditions and criminal activity were some of the issues raised by residents, property owners and stakeholders through private meetings and a survey conducted by the University of Texas El Paso’s Center for Civic Engagement. This area has more gang activity, prostitution and drug problems than some other areas in El Paso. There are currently 19 gangs known to be “headquartered” in the Chamizal neighborhood.

Lower Dyer area has the same related issues including high gang and drug activity, lack of community service and poor neighborhood conditions. “Lower Dyer is the area around the Cassidy Gate to Fort Bliss and because of all the additional troops that will be coming in, we felt we needed to give that area some attention,” Lilly said.

Some of the strategies that are the proposed for the revitalization plan for the Chamizal and Lower Dyer areas include:

For more information contact the Department of Community and Human Developments Neighborhood Services Division at (915) 541-4893.